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ACTON IN HISTORY.
COMPILED FOE THE MIDDLESEX COUNTY HISTORY.
J. W. LEWIS & CO., OF PHILADELPHIA,
MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS ADDITIONAL,
REV. JAMES ELETCHER.
Copyright is!hi isy J, W. Lewis Go., transferred ro Rev. .ia.mks Fletcher.
PHILADELPHIA am. BOSTON:
J. W. LEWIS & CO.,
Thanks are hereby expressed to the publishers, J. W. Lewis & ('(>.. of Philadelphia,
for their generosity and courtesy in providing the printed extras for the Acton Local, a1 such
To the owners of the expensive c'hoice steel plates, — for the tree use of the same.
To Rev. F. I'. Wood, for his accommodation in the matter of engraving blocks. To
the Pratt Brothers, for their indulgence in the same line.
To George C. Wright, for furnishing the new photo-electrotype block of the oil painting
of ('apt. Isaac Davis' wife, which has never before been printed for the public eve. The oil
painting was a remarkable likeness of the venerable lady, taken by the best artist when she
was in her 92d year. It was photographed by Mr. Wright, several years ago in New York,
where he found it with some of the descendants. He has had this photograph photo-eleetro-
typed for the uses of the Acton Local. It is a rare, historic gem.
Thanks are also due to Mrs. Winthrop E. Faulkner for the photo-electrotype engraving
of the crayon sketch of her husband, a fine facsimile of the original.
To Arthur H. Cowdry, M. I)., of Stoneham, for the block of his father, so highly prized
To lion. William A. Wilde, who again has shown his appreciation of his birthtown by
the gilt of the frontispiece picture of this book, and also of the photo-electrotype of his own
To Horace F. Tattle, for his gratuitous services, of the last winter months, in drawing
and compiling the original for the lithographic map of Acton.
To the public in general, for their response, in interest and subscriptions, to the work,
which is now submitted to them in trust.
Acton, Mass.. Dec. 1^. 18U0.
ACTON IN HISTORY.
COMPILED BY REV. JAMES FLETCHER.
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The Davis Guards 1 Reception
The Faulkner Homestead
The civil War Record. Bj Lut'.ici- Conant, Est
(Hi. Winthrop E. Faulkner
('apt. Isaac Davis' Route to North Bridge
Hon. William A. Wilde
The Tablet List by Julian Tuttle . . . .
James II ax-ward
The Congregational Church
Rev. James T. Woodbury
Mrs. Mehitable Piper
Rev. .1. T. Woodbury's S]>eeeli
Capt. Isaac Davis
Capt. Isaac Davis' Wife
Men of the Revolution
Graduates of College
The French ami Indian War
The Second Meeting' House
William D. Tuttle's Sketch
Deaths of the Oldest Persons
A. A. Wyman's Sketch
Mrs. John Hapgood's Sketch of West Acton
PHILADELPHIA AND BOSTOX:
.1. W. LEWIS & ('(>..
TOWN OF ACTON.
REV. JAMES FLETCHER.
REPRINTED FROM THE "HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
TOWN OF ACTON.
The hope of rescuing from the wreck of oblivion some of the precious |
relics of the past has been the solace of care in the preparation of this work.
Hearty thanks are here expressed and acknowledgments made to those '
who have contributed with the pen anil the memory in aid of the sketch.
William D. Turtle, Esq., the town clerk, and his son, Horace P., have
rendered important assistance in gathering facts from the town records.
The historical map prepared by Horace F. Tuttle for the history, and
which it was hoped could be published in the same, is a valuable acquisi-
tion for future reference lis important items are given. It should be
printed and doubtless will be soou. Rev. Dr. Knowlton, Rev. F.
P. Wood, Rev. Mr. Heath, A. A. Wyman, Esq., Horace Hosnier and his
daughter Bertha, Deacon Samuel Hosnier, Mrs. John Hapgood, Mrs.
Lottie Klagg, Luther Conant, Esq., Moses Taylor, Esq.. and Luke Smith
have rendered essential service in gathering up the fragments that
nothing be lost.
The Centennial address of Josiah H. Adams, Esq., Shattuck's " History
of Concord " and the "Colonial History " of Charles H.C. Walcott have
been freely consulted in the compilation.
The history of Acton seems to the writer in the review like a romance
dropped freshly from the skies. It is in reality a plain tale of persons
and events which have consecrated for all time this locality.
Coloxial Period. — Acton, tweuty-four miles
northwest of Boston, has on the north Littleton and
Westford ; on the east Carlisle and Concord ; on the
south Sudbury. Maynard and Stow ; and on the
west Boxboro' and Littleton.
Acton at its incorporation, July 21, 1735, was
bounded by Sudbury, Concord, Billerica, Chelmsford,
Westford, Littleton and Stow, which then included
Boxborough. The principal part of what is now
Carlisle, then belonging to Old Concord, was set off
as a part of the new town, Acton.
The Carlisle District of Acton was incorporated as
a separate town in 1780; the easterly part of Old
Concord was incorporated in the new town of Bed-
ford in 1729 ; and the southerly part of Old Concord
was incorporated in the new town of Lincoln in 1754,
so that from 1754 to 1780 the township of Acton was
larger than that of Concord, though much behind in
wealth and population. At the time of Concord's in-
corporation, in 1635, what is now the Acton territory
was not a part of Concord, but was granted to Con-
cord a few years after by the name of the " Concord
Village," or the new grant covering nearly the pres-
ent boundaries of Acton. The Willard Farms in- J
eluded in the act incorporating Acton in 1735 had,
previous to that act, been granted to Concord.
When Acton was made a town the statute bounded }
it on the east by " Concord old Bounds,'' from which
it appears, as before stated, that it includes no part of
the original Concord and that the dividing line be- I
tween the two towns is a portion of the old Concord
on that side.
The Acton boundary extended leads to a heap of
lichen-covered boulders, surmounted by a stake.
This ancient monument is near the top of a hill
in the southwesterly part of Carlisle, and undoubtedly
marks the old northwest corner of Concord.
It was identified and pointed out to Chas. H. Walcott,
of Concord, on the ground by Major B. F. Heald, of
Carlisle, who says that he has often heard his father and
other ancient men, long since deceased, speak of this
bound as marking the old Concord corner.
Everything goes to corroborate this testimony. The
place was commonly known by the name of " Berry
Corner," and was the original northeast corner of
Acton, but in 1780 (statute passed April 28, 1780) a
portion of that town near this point was included in
what was then constituted the District of Carlisle,
and subsequently formed a part of the town of the
same name (Carlisle did not acquire all the legal
characteristics of a town until February 18, 1805—3
Special Laws, 497).
Thomas Wheeler and others who came to Concord
about 1639, found the most convenient of the lands
already given out, and in 1642 petitioned for a grant
of land on the northwest, which was conceded on
coudition that they improved the grant within two
years. Most of the lands were granted to Concord
They were not very accurately defined, being found
upon actual survey to contain a greater number of
acres than nominally specified in the grants.
A settlement was begun on these grants as early as
1656 and possibly a few years earlier. The Shepherd
and Law families were among the first settlers.
Many of the meadows were open prairies affording,
with little or no labor, grass in abundance.
Some of the uplands had been cleared by the In-
dians and were favorite places for feeding. In those
days the " new grant " was familiarly called, and with
some reason, " Concord's sheep pasture."
In 1666, in pursuance of an order from the General
Court, Richard Beers, of Watertown, and Thomas
Noyes, of Sudbury, laid out the new grant, or Con-
cord Village, as it was called, comprising the present
territory of Acton and portions of Carlisle and Lit-
tleton, and made their return in the following year.
On January 12, 1669, a lease was made by Con-
cord to Captain Thomas Wheeler, for the term of
twenty-one years, of two hundred acres of upland
and sixty acres of meadow, lying west of Nashoba
Brook, in consideration of which he agreed to pay a
yearly rent of £5 alter the expiration of the first
seven years, and to build a house forty feet in length,
eighteen feet wide and twelve feet stud, " covered
with shingles, with a payer of chimnes," also a barn
forty feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and twelve feet
stud. These buildings were to be left at the end of
the term tor the use of the town, with thirty acres of
land in tillage and sufficiently fenced.
He agreed further, and this was the main pur-
pose of the lease, to receive and pasture the dry cattle
belonging to the town's people, not to exceed one
hundred and twenty in number nor to be fewer than
The cattle were to be marked by their owners and
delivered to Captain Wheeler at his house, and the
price was fixed at two shillings a head, payable one-
third in wheat, one-third in rye or pease, and one-
third in Indian corn.
The owners were to " keep the said herd twelve
Sabboth dayes yearly, at the appointment and accord-
ing to the proportion by said Thomas or his heires
The number of cattle received under this agree-
meut fell below the lowest limit, and, in January,
1673, the terms of the contract were so modified that
Captain Wheeler was entitled to receive one shilling
The town of Concord laid out a road to Thomas
Wheeler's mill, the first grist-mill in Acton, located
on the present site of Wetherbee's mill, as is proved
by the foundations of the old mill found when dig-
ging for the present mill.
The canal now used is essentially the same as then
The mill was tended for the most part by women.
A Mrs. Joseph Barker had charge among the last.
Going up from that site to the present saw-mill we
find on the east side of the dam, near the road, the
abutments of what were old iron works, called at the
time a forge.
Here they had a trip-hammer and other implements
and conveniences for working in iron. Joseph Har-
ris made the latches and the iron-work from this
forge for the first meeting-house.
The ore, which was smelted with charcoal, was bog
iron ore found in the vicinity, some rods southwest.
The building for the storing of the charcoal was a
little distance up the old road going west, beyond the
old walls. The charcoal bed is easily determined by
striking a spade into the ground.
The old road went south of the present saw-mill
and wound around near the old wall up to the brook
at the foot of the hill, and there followed up the
stream on the right side.
Captain Thomas Wheeler's house, supposed to be
the first dwelling-house deserving the name, was
west of the brook, not far from the wall where the
old lilac bushes still stand, which belonged to hia
The spring near the brook, now enclosed in a bar-
rel, was Captain Wheeler's well. There are evidences
of an old orchard opposite on the south side of the
brook. The Canadian plum-trees near by are said to
have come from the stones of plums which the sol-
diers brought on their return from Canada in the
French and Indian War.
Mrs. Joseph Barker, who tended the mill, lived at
one time in Captain Wheeler's house. John Barker's
house was a little to the right, on the east side of the
stream, and farther west of Thomas Wheeler's house
and bam .
Captain Thomas Wheeler died in 1676, from
wounds received in his fight with the Indians at
Brookfield. He was born a leader of men in war
and peace. The narrative of the expedition of Cap-
tain Edward Hutchinson, after hostilities had begun
at Plymouth, written by Captain Thomas Wheeler, is
the epic of Colonial times. He was so associated
with the first start in the settlement and business ac-
tivities of Acton, before its incorporation, that we give
space to the excellent synopsis of his narrative, by
Charles H. Walcott, the Colonial historian of Con-
" Captain Hutchinson was commissioned by the
Council at Boston to proceed to the Nipmuck coun-
try, so called, in what is now Worcester County, and
confer with the Indians there for the purpose of pre-
venting, if possible, any extension of Philip's influ-
ence in that direction.
" Captain Thomas Wheeler, of Concord, who was
already advanced in years, and had commanded the
western troop of horse ever since its organization,
was ordered to accompany Hutchinson with an escort
of twenty or twenty-five men of his company. Ac-
cordingly they set out from Cambridge and arrived
at Quabaug, or Brookfield, on Sunday, August 1st.
Here they received information that the Indians
whom they expected to meet had withdrawn to a
place about ten miles distant towards the northwest.
A detachment of four men was sent forward to assure
them of the peaceable character of the expedition,
and a meeting was agreed upon for the next morn-
ing, at eight o'clock, on a plain within three miles of
" There was some apprehension of treachery, but
prominent citizens of Brookfield not only expressed
confidence in the good intentions of the savages, but
declared their own willingness to be present at the
conference, and Hutchinson decided that theappoint-
I ment must be kept. The Indians, however, did not
I appear, and this fact, together with other suspicious
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
circumstances, led the sagacious Wheeler to think
that to venture further would be unwise. But
Hutchinson was unwilling to abandon his mission
with nothing accomplished, and, in deference to his
wishes, the order was given to advance towards a
swamp where the savages were supposed to be lurk-
" As they proceeded the narrowness of the path,
with the swamp on one side and a rocky hill on the
other, forced men and horses to march in single file.
"Suddenly the war-whoop resounded, and the ad-
vancing column was assailed by a volley of arrows and
bullets discharged from behind trees and bushes, kill-
ing eight men, wounding five, and throwing the line
into disorder, which was materially increased by the
difficulty of turning about or passing by in the strait-
" Captain Wheeler spurred his horse up the hillside,
when, finding himself unhurt and perceiving that
some of his men had fallen under the fire of the
enemy, who were now rushing forward to finish their
work, he turned about and dashed boldly forward to
" The movement separated him for a few moments
from his men. A well-directed shot killed his horse
and brought the old man to the ground wounded,
and it would soon have been all over with the brave
captain, had not his son Thomas, who was also
wounded, come to his rescue.
"Quickly dismounting, he placed his father in the
saddle, and ran by his side until he caught another
horse that had lost his rider, and so the two escaped
with their lives, but suffering severely from their
" This was merely the beginning. Hutchinson had
received a wound that caused his death in a few days,
and now the task of extricating the command from
its perilous situation devolved upon Captain Wheeler.
It was performed in masterly fashion. Keeping to
the open country and avoiding the woods, they re-
traced their way, with the assistance of friendly In-
dian guides, to the village of Brookfield, took posses-
sion of one of the largest and strongest houses, and
fortified as best they could.
" They had not long to wait before the enemy ap-
peared in superior numbers, and attacked the strong-
hold with vigor.
" The captain's disability brought to the front Lieu-
tenant Simon Davis, another Concord man, who
fought and prayed with a fervor that reminds one of
the soldiers of Cromwell. To him, associated with
James Richardson and John Fiske, of Chelmsford,
the direction of affairs was entrusted.
" Two men, dispatched to Boston for assistance, were
unable to elude the vigilance of the besiegers, and
were obliged to return.
" The Indians piled hay and other combustibles
against the side of the house and set fire to them,
thus forcing the English to expose themselves in their
efforts to extinguish the flames. Their bows shot
arrows tipped with ' wild fire,' which alighted on the
buildings within the enclosure and set them afire.
" To get their combustible materials close to the
walls, a remarkable engine, fourteen rods long, was
> constructed by the savages of poles and barrels, which
| they trundled forward on its menacing errand. For
three days and nights this horrible warfare continued.
"The besieged were compelled to witness the mutila-
tion of their dead comrades who had fallen outside,
and to endure as best they could the jeers and taunts
of the foe.
"Rain came to the assistance of the little band by
putting out the fires of their assailants and rendering
it difficult to kindle new ones. Davis, who is said to
have been of a ' lively spirit,' exhorted his men to
remember that God was fighting on their side, and to
take good aim before firing.
" The prayers and hymns of the soldiers, borne out
on wings of fire and smoke, were answered by cries of
the unregenerate heathen, who gave utterance to hid-
eous groanings in imitation of the singing of psalms.
"Twice did brave Ephraim Curtis attempt to make
his way through the enemy's line to go for succor.
Twice was he compelled to return baffled. The third
time, by great exertion and crawling for a considera-
ble distance on his hands and knees, he succeeded in
reaching Marlborough, where he gave the alarm, and
on the evening of the 4th the garrison was overjoyed
at the arrival of their old neighbor and friend, Major
Willard, with a force of forty-six soldiers and five
Indians, who, hearing at Marlborough of their dis-
tress, had altered his course to come to their relief.
"Towards morning the Indians departed, having set
fire to all the houses, except that which sheltered the
"It has already been stated that Captain Wheeler
was severely wounded, and his son was detained at
Brookfield for several weeks by the injuries he had
" It is easy to believe that the Captain and the re-
mainder of his troop received a hearty welcome on
their return home. The town kept the 21st day ol
October, 1675, as 'a day of praise and thanksgiving
to God for their remarkable deliverance and safe re-
turn.* It was a battle in which Concord men were
foremost in the display of courage and the rarer qual-
ities that constitute good leadership.
" The Indians appear to have behaved very badly
from the beginning. They were guilty of an unpro-
voked and treacherous assault upon a party whose
purpose was one of peace and friendship. The mis-
sion was an honorable one and faithfully discharged;
and Wheeler and his men are deserving of praise for
all time as brave soldiers who acquitted themselves
nobly under the most trying circumstances."
Nathan Robbins appears to be the first owner of
the land after Wheeler, and the land has passed from
father to son ever since.
Acts of Incorporation. — An act to incorporate
the town of Acton, passed July, 17'i-j.
" Whereas the inhabitants and proprietors of the Northwesterly part of
Concord, in the County of Middlesex, culled the Village or New Grant,
have represented to this court that they labor under great difficulties
by reason of their remoteness from the place of public worship and
therefore desire that they and their estates, together with the farms
called Wlllard Farms, may beset off a distinct and separate township
for which they have also obtained the consent of the town of Concord :
" Be it therefore enacted by his Excellency the Governor, Council and
Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the
same, that, the said Northwesterly part of Cjncord, together with the
said farms be, and hereby are set off, constituted and erected iuto a dis-
tinct and separate township by the name of Acton, and agreeably to the
following boundaries, namely, beginning at the Southwest corner of
Concord old hounds, then Southwesterly on Sudbury and Stow line till
itcoinesto Littleton line, then hounded Northerly by Littleton, West-
ford and Chelmsford, then Easterly by Billerica till it comes to the
Northwest corner of Concord old bounds anil by said boundi to the
place first mentioned.
"And that the inhabitants of the lands before described and bounded
he and hereby are vented with all the town privileges aud immunities
that the inhabitants of other towns within this Province are or by law
ought to be vested with.
•' Provided that the Slid inhabitants of the said town of Actou do,
within three years from the publication of this Act, erect and finish a
suitable house for the public worship of God and procure and settle a
learned orthodox minister of good conversation aud make provision for
his comfortable and honorable support."
This vicinity was called Concord Village in those
Here was a happy, independent, industrious com-
munity, owning their lands, worshiping God in their
own way and educating their children.
For seventeen years all went well, till Sir Edmund
Andros appeared in Boston and tried to overthrow
the charter which was served by the people as their
safeguard and protection.
He prohibited town-meetings except once a year to
Puritan flesh and blood could not stand this. Their
town-meetings meant business, and now they were
ordered to give them up. Taxes were laid without
consulting those who were to pay them, and, worst
of all, Andros declared all land titles null and void.
When the people showed their deeds from the In-
dians he said he cared no more for an Indian's signa-
ture than he did for the scratch of a bear's paw.
Then they pleaded what we in late days have
called squatter sovereignty. But he said that no
length of possession could make valid a grant from
one who had no title.
Then the people rose to defend their homes and the
rights of Englishmen.
On the 19th of April, 1689, the Concord Company,
commanded by John Heald, the first selectman of
Acton after its incorporation, marched to Boston to
assist in the revolt which overthrew the Andros gov-
In this way the men of Concord and Acton ante-
dated the original 19th of April, which has since be-
come the red-letter day in our history.
The First Meeting-House.— We will retrace our
steps by the old Brooks tavern, to the spot opposite
where now stands the stately school building of the
We will have to pause a long time here before com-
prehending the situation. It is the spot where stood
for seventy years that old landmark of the past — the
first meeting-house of the town of Acton.
If you have seen the striking picture in the
pamphlet of the centennial celebration, you will have
been helped to an impression of the house and its
You must stand yourself on that hill of Ziou, for
such it was to our early forefathers, and view the
landscape o'er. On the south is the road that leads
through the woods to the resting-place of the dead.
On the east rises Annursneak Hill, hiding from view
the peaceful homes of Mother Concord.
To the north of Annursneak is Strawberry Hill,
whose brow strikes but eight feet below the brow of the
former, having a view more commanding and more
accessible. To the north and west are the delectable
Hills, and towering above them all in the distance,
Watatuck, Monadnock and Wachusett, old, familiar
faces to every Acton boy and girl.
The building of this meeting-house is associated
with the organization of Acton as a separate incor-
porated town. (See act of incorporation.) The location
and erection of a meeting-house soon began to agitate
the people. In October of the year of incorporation it
was voted not to build that year, but " to set the
meeting-house in the Center." By the centre was
meant the point of intersection of lines drawn to the
extreme limits of the town. This decision was not
satisfactory to all the inhabitants.
At a meeting holden November 10, 1735, it was pro-
pounded whether the town would not reconsider their
vote to have the meeting-house in the centre, and
" agree to set it at some place near the center for con-
venience.'' It was voted not to reconsider. It was
also voted not to do anything towards building the
meeting-house the ensuing year.
At a meeting on the first Monday in December the
same year it was again proposed to the town to re-
consider the previous action, with reference to the lo-
cation. The article was dismissed. But the minority
had another meeting warned for December 29th, " To
see if the Town will reconsider thar vote that they
will set thare meeting-house in the Center, and agree
to set it on a knowl with a grate many Pines on it,
Laying South Easterly about twenty or thirty Rods
of a black oak tree, whare the fire was made the last
meeting, or to se if the Town will agree to set thare
meeting-house on a knowl the North of an oak tree
whare they last met, or to see if the Town will chuse
two or three men to say which of the places is most
convenient, or to se if the Commity think that knowl
whereon stands a dead pine between the two afore-
said knowls, or to say which of the three places is
At this meeting the location was changed to the
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX
first "knowl" mentioned in the warrant. The site of
the first meeting-house (a little to the south of where
the Centre School-house now stands, near the two
elms) was twenty or thirty rods southeast of the geo-
graphical centre of the town, as it was before the in-
corporation of Carlisle.
At the meeting which finally decided the location
of the house, it was voted to begin that year and the
dimensions were fixed upon.
The house was to be forty-six by thirty-eight feet
in length and width and twenty feet in height.
At the next meeting (January 2, 173G) the former
vote was reconsidered, and the vote was to have the
house forty-six by thirty-six and " 21 feet between
Voted, " That all the inhabitants of the town should
have the offer to work at giting the timber for the
house by the Commity."
Voted, "That Samuel Wheeler, Jonathan Parlin,
Simon Hunt, John Shepherd and Daniel Shepherd
be a Commity to manage ye affair of giting the tim-
ber for ye meeting-house."
Voted, " That the Commity should have six shil-
lings per day for thar work, and the other Laborers
five shillings per day."
Voted, " That there should be a Rate of seventy
pounds made and assessed on the inhabitants of the
town of Acton towards setting up the frame of the
May 10, 1736, it was voted " That the Selectmen
should agree with Madam Cuming for ye land for ye
meeting-house to stand on."
The deed of the land of the first meeting-house in
Acton was dated January 25, 1737, signed by "Anne
Cummings, wife of Mr. Alexander Cummings, Sur-
geon, now abroad, and attorney of said Alexander
Cummings, being empow-ered and authorized by
This deed is written in a bold, large-lettered style,
and is very plain to read — as but few specimens of
penmanship seen in ancient or modern times.
It is in a fine state of preservation in the keeping
of the town clerk.
The style of it reminds one of John Hancock's
signature to the Declaration of Independence.
September 15, 173G, the town voted "To frame and
Rai.-e thar meeting-house before winter, and John
Heald, Thomas Wheeler and Simon H::nt were
chosen a Commity impowered to Regulate and
Inspect and order ye fnming and Raising ye meeting-
house in Acton and like wise to agree with Carpen-
ter or carpenters to frame ye house."
At the same meeting it was decided to do nothing
about preaching for the en-uing winter.
November 1, 1736, Voted, " That they would board
and shingle ye roofs and board and clap-board ye
aides and ends, make window frames and casements
and make ye door and crown of doors and windows,
put troughs round, build ye pulpit and lay ye lower '
floor, ye work to be done by ye first of November
May 30, 1737, Voted, "To underpin the meeting-
house by working each man a day."
Those who were delinquent were required to work
a day " at high ways, by order of ye surveyor, more
than thare equal part other ways wood have been."
"The work of pinting the underpining was let out
to Jonathan Billings for 2£ 10s., which work he
engaged to do spedily and Do it Wei."
Public worship was first held in the meeting-house
in January, 1738.
At the time of Mr. Swift's ordination, November,
1738, it was far from being finished.
May 15, 1745, Voted, " To raise twenty pounds, old
tenor, for finishing the meeting house that year."
Not till two years after this was the house com-
pleted. One should read the several dates in order
to get a full impression of the slowness and difficulty
of building a meeting-house in those colonial times.
There is a tradition that Lord Acton, of England,
for whom the town may possibly have been named,
offered a bell for the house of worship, but, having
no tower, and the people feeling too poor to erect one,
the present was declined.
When the house was finished (so-called), in 1747,
there were no pews, except on the lower floor adjoin-
ing the walls of the house, and these were but sixteen
in number. The four pews which were under and
over each of the gallery stairs were built at intervals
some years after. Several of the pew-holders from
time to time obtained leave of the town to make a
new window for their own accommodation and at
their own expense. Each seems to have consulted
his own fancy, both as to size and location. Little
windows, in this way, of different sizes and shapes,
came to be placed near the corners of the building.
In the body of the house, on each side the broad
aisle, were constructed what were then called the body
seats, and these together with the gallery were occu-
pied by all who, through poverty or otherwise, were
not proprietors of a pew.
Both in the body seats and in the gallery the men
were arranged on the right of the pulpit and the women
on tne left, so that while the pew-holder could sit with
his wife at church, all others were obliged to keep at
a respectful distance.
The custom of "seating the meeting-house," as it
was called, was found necessary, and was well calcu-
lated to prevent confusion and to insure particularly
to the aged a certain and comfortable seat.
To give the better satisfaction the committee were
usually instructed to be governed by age and the
amount of taxes paid for the three preceding years.
In the year 1757 they were also instructed to be gov-
erned by " other circumstances," at their discretion.
The report of that committee was not accepted and
a new committee was chosen with the usual instruc-
tions.. What the " other circumstances" were does
not appear. But it should have been known that any
circumstances which depended on the estimation and
discretion of a committee would fail to give satisfac-
tion in a matter of such peculiar delicacy.
The new committee, however, seem to have restored
harmony, and the same practice was continued during
the existence of the old meeting-house.
Special instructions were given in favor of negroes,
who were to have the exclusive occupation of the
" hind seat " in the gallery.
How the youthful eyes lingered on the heels of
Quartus Hosmer as they disappeared in his passage
up the gallery-stairs, and how eagerly they watched
the re-appearance in the gallery of his snow-white
eyes, made more conspicuous by the eel-skin ribbon
which gathered into & queue his graceful curls!
He lived at the house then occupied by Mr. Hosmer,
near the turnpike corner on the way from the Centre
to the South, midway between the two villages.
In 1769 " the hind parts " of the body seats were
removed and four new pews were erected in their
place. They were occupied by Thomas Noyes, Daniel
Brooks, Joseph Robbins and Jonathan Hosmer. In
the same year the house was new covered and glazed.
In 1783 four other other pews were built and another
portion of the body seats was removed. Three of
these were sold and the fourth was " assigned for
the use of the clergyman. It was through the banis-
ters of this pew " old Mother Robbins," who sat in
the body seats, used to furnish the centennial orator,
Josiah Adams, Esq., the son of the pastor, those
marigolds, peonies, and pink roses, decorated and
perfumed with pennyroyal, southernwood, and tansy.
She was indeed a most interesting old lady. No other
public building has existed in the town so long as this
stood. It was the house in which the first minister,
Mr. Swift, preached during the whole of his long ser-
vice of thirty-seven years, and in which Mr. Moses
Adams, the second minister, officiated during the
period of thirty years.
It was used not simply for religious worship, but for
town-meetings. Here the money was voted for the
first public schools, here the roads were laid out, here
the poor were provided for, here Acton took its munic-
ipal action preliminary to the Revolutionary War, and
here the first vote was passed recommending the Con-
tinental Congress to put forth the Declaration of Inde-
pendence. The house stood and was used for these
public purposes until 1808, when it was forsaken and
after a few years torn down.
It would be a novel and impressive service could
the persons of the present generation be transferred
just for one day and witness the scene in that old
meeting-house on the " knowl." We would like to
catch just one look at that venerable row of the deacons'
seat. We would like to see them there, each in his
turn reading the psalm, a line at a time, and tossing it
up for the use of the singers in the front gallery. We
would like to hear the peculiar voices of James Bil-
lings and Samuel Parlin coming back as an echo.
This practice of reading a line at a time, which,
doubtless, had its origin in a want of psalm-books, be-
came so hallowed in the minds of many that iis dis-
continuance was a work of some difficulty.
In 1790 the church voted that it should be dis-
pensed with in the afternoon, and three years after-
wards they voted to abandon the practice.
On the Sabbath previous to the dedication of their
second meeting-house, the people of Acton came
from all directions, a whole family on a horse, toward
the old meeting-house, to bid farewell to the place
where their fathers had worshiped. After the whole
town had come, entered the church, taken their seats
in the old-fashioned square pews, sungsomeof Watts'
hymns, and listened to a long and fervent prayer, their
beloved minister, the Rev. Moses Adams, eloquently
discoursed from the following text (Micah 2 : 10) :
" Arise and let us depart, for this is not our rest."
"Let us sing in his praise," the minister said. All
the psalm-books at once fluttered open at " York."
A sprig of green caraway carries me there to tbe old
village church and the old village choir.
" To the land of the leal they have gone with their song,
Where the choir and the chorus together belong,
Oh ! be lifted ye gates ! let me hear them again,
Blessed song: blessed Sabbath. Forever. Amen."
Rev. John Swift, the First Pastor. — We come
to the fine mansion now owned and occupied by Dea-
con William W.Davis. Since its recent improvements
it has become an important addition to the structural
adornment of the Centre. It is near enough to the
main avenue of the village to be easily seen, and, with
its elevated front and majestic elm towering above the
whole, it makes a fine perspective view on approach-
ing the town from either road.
Mr. Eliab Grimes, who formerly occupied the place,
was a successful farmer who tilled the land in the
warm months of the year, and taught the schools in
the winter, and had important trusts of service from
the town as selectman and representative. Joash
Keyes, David Barnard, Esq., in 1800; Deacon Josiah
Noyes, in 1780 ; and Rev. John Swift, in 1740. One
dwelling-house on this site was burned. Here is
where Mr. Swift, the first pastor of Acton, for so
long a period lived. Here we must pause long enough
to get affiliated to the historical atmosphere, which
seems to pervade the whole region around.
At a meeting of the town October 4, 1737, while
the first meeting-house was being built, a committee
was selected to supply the pulpit. The meetings were
to begin the first Sunday in January. At a meeting
on January 25, 1738, it was voted "to raise thirty
pounds to glaze ye meeting-house, to raise fifty
pounds to support preaching, and Joseph Fletcher
should be paid for a cushing for ye pulpit out of the
tax money." In the warrant for a meeting holden
on March 28th was this article : " To se if ye town
will appint a day for fasting and prayer to God, with
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX
the advice and assistance of sum of ye Neighboring
Ministers for further directions, for the establishing
ye gospel among them, as, allso, who and how many
thay will advise with, as, allso, to chose a commett to
mannig ye affare and provide for ye Pulpit for ye
time to come."
Voted "to appint ye last Thursday of March for
fasting and prayer."
Voted "that thay will call in five of ye Neighboring
Ministers for advice in calling a Minister, viz. : Mr.
Lorin, of Sudbury; Mr. Cook, East Sudbury; Mr.
Gardner, of Stow; Mr. Peabody, of Natick ; and Mr.
Rogers, of Littleton. Also, voted ye Selectmen be a
Committ to Mannig ye affare, and provide for ye
pulpit for ye iutur.'' At this meeting John Cragin
was appointed to take care of the meeting-house, and
thus he became Acton's first sexton.
May 9, 1738, the town invited Mr. John Swift, of
Framingham, to settle with them as minister. It
was voted to give him £250 as a settlement, and an
annual salary of £150, to be paid in semi-annual in-
stalments in Massachusetts bills, which at the time
was equivalent to about £117 settlement, and £70
salary. The contracting committee were John
Heald, Samuel Wheeler, John Brooks, Amtniruham-
mah Faulkner, Simon Hunt and Joseph Fletcher.
The salary offered was to rise or fall with the price
of the principal necessaries of life. In the year 1754,
the following list of articles considered as principally
necessary for consumption in a minister's family
were reported by a town's committee, with the cur-
rent prices in 1735 annexed, and were adopted as a
basis for regulating the amount of Mr. Swi't's salary.
The signatures of the parties on the record show
their entire satisfaction.
" 30 b. Corn, at 6s.; 20 b. Rye, at 10s.; 500 lb. Pork, at
8d.; 300 lb. Beef, at 5rf. ; 25 lb. wool, at 3s. 6d.; 15 lb.
Cotton, at 4s. 6d. ; 50 lb. Flax, at Is. 3d. ; 56 lb. S Jgar,
at Is. 4c/. ; 20 gals. Rum, at 8s. ; 80 lb. Butter, at Is.
4d. ; 2 Hats, at £3 ; 10 pr. shoes, at 15s."
The contract and agreement between Rev. John
Swift and the town of Acton is here copied as an in-
structive chapter on the times:
" Whore-as the Town of Acton at a Town Meeting Duly warned May
10th, 1738, did invite ye Rev. John Swift into ye work of ye ministry
among them, and did all so pass a vote to give him two hundred and
fifty Pounds towards a settlement, and a hundred and fifty Pounds Sal-
lary yearly and since, at a town meeting Octoher ye 10th, 1738, did
vote that said Sallary should he kept up to ye value of it and paid in
every half years End yearly, and did also chuse John Heald, Joseph
Fle:cher, John Brooks, Samuel Wheeler and Simon Hunt as a Com-
mitt to contract with the Said Mr. Swift about ye said Sallary, the
contract and agreement between said Mr. Swift and said Committ is as
" I". That said sallary shall be paid According to ye ould tenure of
the Massachusetts Bills or in an equivalency of such hills of pr. cent or
lawful CUITeDCJ as shall pass from time to time.
'•2 d . That the value of said sallary be kept up from time to time ac-
cording as when it was voted on May afore according to ye prise of the
necessary provisions of life.
"3 d . That the payment of said sallary continue so long as said
Mr. Swift shall continue in ye work of ye ministry in said Acton
and Id witness her of said Mr. Swift and said CVimmitte have here-
unto set their hands this 30t>> day of October A. D., 1738. John
Swift, John Heald, Joseph Fletcher, Amine Faulkner, Simon Hunt,
"Ordered on this book of Records,
"Attest Simon Hunt, Town Clerk."
The contract was faithfully kept by the people of
Acton, and the pastorate of Mr. Swift continued till
his death, November 7, 1775, thirty-seven yearb lack-
ing one day, at the age of sixty- two years.
The small-pox prevailed as an epidemic in Acton
that year. Mr. Swift took the disease and never
afterwards was able to preach.
Mr. Swift was ordained on the 8th day of Novem-
ber, 1738. No particulars of the ordination can be
gathered either from the town or church records, ex-
cept that " the Council had entertainment at the
house of Mr. Joseph Fletcher."
Mr. Swift was the only son of the Rev. John
Swift, of Framingham. He was born in Framingham,
in 1713 ; graduated at Cambridge in 1733, and at the
time of his ordination was twenty-five years of age.
He was little above the common height, rather
slender, his manners and address agreeable and
pleasant. He was somewhat economical in the man-
agement of his affairs, but kind to the poor and a
good neighbor. He was opposed to excess and ex-
travagance of every kind and to promote peace and
good feeling was his constant care. He had some
■singularities of character, but led an exemplary life,
and retained the affections and respect of his people
through a ministry of thirty-seven years. His preach-
ing was practical, plain and serious, though it is said
he had occasionally some unusual expressions in the
pulpit Which were rather amusing.
As was the custom of many clergymen of his day,
he used to receive lads into his family for instruction
in the studies preparatory to college. In one year
five young men were presented by him at Cambridge,
and all passed the examination and were admitted.
There are a few scraps in his handwriting which ap-
pear to discover considerable ease in the use of the
Latin language, and in his church records there are
many similar instances, but they are so attended with
abbreviations and characters that it is not always
easy to discover their import. Some extracts from
his church records are given. The volume is a very
small one. It begins without caption or heading, and
there is nothing to indicate what the contents are
The first entry is in the following words: "Nov.
8, 1738. I was ordained pastor of the church in
Acton." He speaks of himself in the same manntr
in all parts of the record.
Under date of June 14, 1739, is the following
record, " It being lecture day, after the blessing was
pronounced I desired the church to tarry, and asked
their minds concerning the remainder of the elements
after communion and they voted ' I should have 'em.' "
"Sept. 11, 1744. I made a speech to the church
thus: 'Brethren, I doubt not but you have taken
notice of the long absence of brother Mark White,
Jr., from the ordinances of God in this place. If you
request it of him to give us the reasons of his absence
some time hence, I desire you would manifest it by
an uplifted hand. Whereupon there was an affirma-
tive vote.' June 7, 1749 notations of sacraments
ceased here, because I recorded them in my almanac
The book is a curious intermixture of Latin and
English accounts of admissions to the church, bap-
tisms, administrations of the Supper and dealings
with delinquents, and it is evident that Mr. Swift had
little more in view than brief memoranda for his own
use. He writes: "I regret that I did not at the be-
ginning of my ministry procure a larger book, and
keep a more particular and extensive record. I hope
my successor will profit by this hint." Rev. Mr.
Swift lived to see the opening of the Revolutionary
War. His preaching, prayers and influence at the
time doubtless helped in the preliminaries of that
Thomas Thorp, in his deposition given in 1835 to
the selectmen and committee of the town, says : "On
the morning of the 19th cf April, 1775, I had notice
that the regulars were coming to Concord. I took
my equipments and proceeded toCapt. Davis's house.
I passed the house of Rev. Mr. Swift. His son, Doc-
tor John Swift, made me a present of a cartridge box,
as he saw I had none. I well remember there was
on the outside a piece of red cloth in the shape of a
On that memorable morning Capt. Davis marched
his company by Mr. Swift's house to the music of
fife and drum. The blood in the pastor's veins quick-
ened at the sight and sound, and he waved his ben-
edictions over the heroic company as they passed on
to the scene of action. He helped to sustain the
widow in her first shock as Davis came lifeless to a
home he had left but a few hours before, strong and
vigorous. Mr. Swift did not see the end, only the be-
ginning of the struggle.
In November of the same year a funeral cortege
was seen wending its way to the old cemetery in
Acton. They were following the remains of their
first pastor. A mound and a simple marble slab mark
his grave. Four pine trees of stately growth sing
their requiem over his precious dust as the years
come and go. All honor to the dear memory of him
who laid the foundation stones of this goodly church
of Acton, and did so much to form the peaceful,
frugal character of its inhabitants.
" Honor and blessings on his head
While living — good report when dead.'
We do not easily part from a spot so suggestive of
the stirring events, parochial, ministerial, civil and
military, which centralized in the early days of
Acton, on these very acres. We will leave the home-
stead in the care of Deacon Davis, who has spent the
best energies of his life in improving and adorning
the premises, and whose sympathies are in full accord
with all the memories of the past and with all the
prospects of the future.
Music in the First Church. — In 1785 the singers
were directed, for the first time to sit together in the
In 1793 the practice of performing sacred music
by reading the line of the hymn as sung was discon-
tinued. A church Bible was presented in 1806 by
Deacon John White, of Concord.
In the church records, as far back as March 23,
1797, is found the following vote : 1st. " It is the desire
of the church that singing should be performed as a
part of public worship in the church and congre-
" 2d. It is the desire of the church that the select-
men insert an article in the warrant for the next May
meeting to see if the town will raise a sum of money
to support a singing-school in the town and that the
pastor apply to the selectmen in the name of the
church for that purpose.
"3d. Voted to choose five persons to lead the sing-
ing in the future.
"4th. Voted to choose a committee of three to nom-
inate five persons for singers."
Deacon Joseph Brabrook, Deacon Simon Hunt and
Thomas Noyes were chosen this committee. They
nominated Winthrop Faulkner, Nathaniel Edwards,
Jr., Simon Hosmer, Josiah Noyes and Paul Brooks,
and these persons were chosen, by vote, to lead the
singing in the future.
Voted, " It is the desire of the church that the singers
use a Bass Viol in the public worship, if it be agree-
able to them.
Voted, " It is the desire of the church that all per-
sons who are qualified would assist the singing in the
Deacon Simon Hosmer played for thirty years.
Deacons in the First Church. — Joseph Fletch-
er, chosen December 15, 1738, died September 11,
1746, aged 61 ; John Heald, chosen December 15,
1738, died May 16, 1775, aged 82; Jonathan Hosmer,
died 1775, aged 64; John Brooks, died March 6,
1777, aged 76 ; Samuel Hayward, chosen September
29, 1775, died March 6, 1795, aged 78; Francis
Faulkner, chosen September 29, 1775, died August
5, 1805, aged 78; Joseph Brabrook, chosen Septem-
ber 29, 1775, died April 28, 1812, aged 73 ; Simon Hunt,
chosen April 19, 1792, died April 27, 1820, aged 86;
Josiah Noyes, chosen March 27, 1806, dismissed and
removed to Westmoreland, N. H., October 16, 1808 ;
Benjamin Hayward, chosen March 27, 1806, excused
June 15, 1821 ; John Wheeler, chosen April 18, 1811,
died December 17, 1824, aged 64 ; John White, chosen
April 18, 1811, died April 3, 1824, aged 54; Phineas
Wheeler, chosen June 15, 1821, died in 1838, aged
65; Daniel F. Barker, chosen June 15, 1821, died in
1840; Silas Hosmer, chosen June 15, 1821.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Woodlawn Cemetery. — This is now a very old
and extensive burying-grouad, pleasantly located,
with a slight natural grade descending from the north
to the south — the new portion towards East Acton
being level and of light, dry soil adapted to burying
purposes. It has two pumps, a hearse-hou»e and re-
ceiving-tomb, and a beautilul pine grove shielding
from the summer's sun where public services can be
held. Many ornamental monuments and slabs have
been erected in later yeara.
The original deed to the town for the opening of
Woodlawn Cemetery was given by Nathan Robbins
January 16, 1737, and contained one-half an acre.
The second deed was given by Joseph Robbins De-
cember 11, 1769, a small tract adjoining southeast
corner. The third deed was dated November 2, 1812 ^
the fourth deed was dated January 1, 1844; the fifth
deed was dated August 22, 1862. The present area
(1890) is between eleven and twelve acres. The old-
est date noticed upon any of the slabs is 1743.
In earlier times slabs were not erected — a simple
stone marking the place of burial. Many have been
buried here whose graves have no outward token of
their locality. A recent careful count of the graves
in this cemetery makes the number 1671, showing
that here lie the remains of a population nearly if not
quite equal to those above ground on the present
limits of the town. The location is about midway
between East Acton and the Centre, and easily reached
by good roads leading from all the villages and the
other portions of the town.
Within the memory of some now living, before the
new road from the Centre was laid out and the only
passage was by the present site of Mr. Moorhoiiae,
winding through a continuous line of woods, growing
darker till the gurgling waters of Rocky Guzzle were
heard just as the grave-stones struck the eye, it re-
quired more nerve than most boys and girls had in
those more superstitious times to travel that way
alone in the night or even in day-tune. The hair
would stand on end in spite of one's self as one
reached the sombre retreat. Few were brave enough
to pass that way to mill unattended unless necessity
or the calls of love impelled.
With the more cheery aspect of the thoroughfares
in later years and with the mind cleared of the ghoat,
stories, which, if heard, are discredited on the spot
and expelled at once from the memory, one can travel
that way and sing or whistle as he goes by, conscious
of none but helpful companionship.
A few epitaphs on the tornb-stones are here given,
which may be of interest. The oldest slabs of unique
design have at the top the Latin words Memento mori,
which means, remember that you must die.
Erected in memory of 31 r. Josinli Hayward, who departed this life
May 6, 1783, aged TO.
He was a gentleman of worth and integrity, lived much respected for
hie private, social and public virtues; sustained divers civil ofhYes with
houor to hiuiielf and benefit to the eouiuiunily aud pn r'icnlm ly that of
u representative for this town in the General Assembly, where he showed
himself a warm friend of his country.
His memory is precious with the friends of virtue, religion and man-
He had life in his imagination and a good judgment, was a humble,
patient Christian, ever ready to do good when he saw an opportunity.
Whoever you be that see my hearse,
Take notice of and learn this verse,
For by it you may understand,
You have nut time at your command.
Bless.d are the dead that die In the Lord from henceforth, yea, sail!)
the Spirit that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow
On the marble slab at the tomb of Rev. John Swift :
Rev. John Swift died November7, 1775, aged 62 years.
He was ordained as the first pastor of the Congregational Church of
Acton, November 8, 1738, and continued in this relation until death.
He was a plain, practical and serious preacher aud a faithful minister.
In memory of Major Daniel Fletcher, who departed this life Decem-
ber 15, 1776, in the 69* year of his age.
'Tis dangers great he has gone through
From enemies' hands his God him drew
When fighting foi that noble cause,
His country and its famous laws.
But now we trust to rest has gone
Where wars and fightings there is none.
Here lies buried the body of Deacon Joseph Fletcher, who departed
this life September 11, 1746, in the 61" yar of his age.
This stone Is erected to preserve the remembrance of Deacon Samuel
Hay ward, anil to remind the living that they mut>t follow him. He died
March 6, 1791, aged 78.
For many years he commanded the militia in this town. He was a
kind husband and father, neighbor and a lover of his conutry, of good
men, of religion and of the poor. The memory of such a man is blessed.
Erected in memory of Captain Stevens May ward, who died October
In memory of Deacon John White, who died April 3, 1821, in his
53 d year.
Erected in memory of James Fletcher, who died December 9, 1815,
aged 57, whose death was caused by the falling of a tree.
The rising morning don't assure,
That we shall end the day,
For death stands ready at the door,
To snatch our lives away.
The following inscription is upon a large siab
mounted in a horizontal portion :
Sacred to the memory of Rev. Moses Adams, who was born in Franiing-
hain, October 16, 1749, graduated at Cambridge in 1771 ; w as ordained in
1777, minister of the Church and congregation of Acton, and continued
such till October 13, 1819, when he died on the 16*, which was the 7U" 1
anniversary of his birth.
His remains were placed beneath this etoue. In his person he was
dignified and modest, in his intellect vigorous and sound, in his heart
benevolent and devout. His preaching was plain and practical, and his
example added greatly to his power. The Scriptures were his study and
delight, and while he exercised the protestant right of expounding them
for himself, his candor toward the bincere who differed from him was in
the spirit of the Gospel.
The good beiug whom he loved with supreme devotion was pleased to
grant him many years of prosperity and gladness, and to add not a few
of affliction and sorrow.
The first he enjoyed with moderation and gratitude, and in the last he
exhibited the power of religion to sustain the practical Christian.
To his people and his family he was ardently attached and spent his
life in exertions and prayers for their w elfare, and they have placed this
inscription to testify their reverence f,.r his ctiarai ter and their love
for his memory.
We cannot mourn the venerable shade whom angels led in triumph
to the skie" while following sorrow halted at the toinb.
Tiie North Acton Cemetery. — Its location is
between three and four miles from Acton Centre, on
the road to Carlisle on the left hand. It is a very old
burying-ground of small area and contains about 100
A few of the epitaphs are given :
Sabred to the memory of Captain Samuel Davis, who died July 4 th ,
1800, aged 89.
Retire my friends,
Dry up your tears,
Here I must lie
Till Christ appears.
In memory of Davis, who died September 16, 181), aged 72.
Beneath this stone
Death's prisoner lyes,
The stone shall move,
The prisoner rise,
When Jesus with Almighty word,
Calls his dead saints
To meet the Lord.
Here lies buried the body of Deacon John Heald, who departed this
life May 1G, 1775, in the 82 4 year of his ago. Ilis wife Mary died Sep-
tember 1, 1758, aged 61.
Mount Hope Cemetery, West Acton. — The West
Acton Cemetery is gracefully located on elevated dry
ground*on the southern border of the village to the
right as one pa-ses from West to South Acton. It
was opeoed in 1848. It is regularly laid out; has a
new receiving tomb and many modern slabs and sev-
eral costly monuments of artistic design. It contains
271 graves and will have an increasing interest as the
years go by.
The Brooks Tavern. — Many now living can
recall the gambrel roof two-story house at the foot of
the hill, near where Mr. Moorhouse now lives, owned
and occupied for many years by Mr. Nathaniel
Stearns, the father of Mrs. Moses Taylor.
In the earlier days, before the present avenue and
village at the Centre had been laid out, it stood as a
conspicuous centre-figure facing the old meeting-
house on the knoll, near where the school-house now
The space between these two buildings was the
Acton Common of ye olden time. Here were the
military drills. Here were the town-meeting gather-
ings. This Stearns house was the hotel of the sur-
rounding districts, and was known as the " Brocks
Tavern," from Daniel Brooks, who occupied it in
1762, and Paul Brooks afterwards.
When the new meeting-house of 1807 was raised it
was necessary to send to Boston to engage sailors ac-
customed to climb the perilous heights of a sea-faring
life. They assisted in raising and locating the frame
of the steeple. After the deed was accomplished they
celebrated the exploit in feasting and dancing at the
" Brooks Tavern."
Could ihe walls of this tavern be put upon the
stand, and could they report all they have seen and
heard in the line of local history, we would have a
chapter which would thrill us with its heroic, humor-
ous and tragic details.
The Fletcher Homestead. — As we leave this
enchanted spot we notice the old stepping-stone of
the meeting-house which Mason Robbins has erected
in the wall at the right, and inscribed upon its broad
face the memorial tablet of the bygone days. As we
reach the house now owned and occupied by Mrs.
Jonathan Loker, we see a lane to the left leading into
the vacant pasture and orchard.
Pass into that lane for a few rod3, and we reach
the marks of an old cellar on the left. Here stood
for many years, frcm 1794 on, the Fletcher home-
stead, where James Fletcher, the father of Deacon
John Fletcher, and his brother James and Betsey,
the sister, lived during childhood up to the years of
maturity. A few feet from this ancient cellar-hole to
the west is the site of the first Fletcher russet apple-
tree. Childhood's memories easily recall the ancient
unpaiuted cottage, the quaint old chimney with the
brick-oven on the side, and the fire-place large
enough for the burning of logs of size and length, and
in front to the southeast a vegetable garden un-
matched at the time for its culture and richness, and
a large chestnut-tree to the south, planted by Deacon
John, in early life.
The farm and homestead of Potter Conant, where
Herbert Robbins now lives, on the cross-road, near
Mr. Thomas Hammond's, was originally owned and
occupied by James Fletcher, the father of Deacon
John, and the birth-place of the latter. It was sold
in exchange to Potter Conant, when Deacon John
was four years old.
Thomas Smith, the father of Solomon Smith, died
here in 1758. Solomon Smith, who was at the Con-
cord fight, lived here at the time. His son, Luke
Smith, was at Baltimore with his knapsack and gun,
when the rioters mobbed the old Sixth on the 19th of
April, 1861. Silas Conant lived here later. Betsey
married a Mr. Shattuck, who moved to Landaff, N.
H.. and was the mother of Lydia Shattuck, the noted
teacher at Mount Holyoke College. For forty-one
years she was connected with the institution, as a
pupil in the fall of 1848, and of late years has been
the only in-tructor who bad studied under Mary
Lyon. She began to teach immediately after gradu-
ation. She made a specialty of natural history studies
and was an enthusiastic botanist. She was associated
with Professor Agassiz and Guyot in founding the
Anderson School on Penikese Island, and was largely
instrumental in awakening the interest which led to
the founding of Williston Hall at South Hadley.
Last summer she was made professor emeritus and
granted a permanent home at the college. She died
at the college November 2, 1889, aged sixty-seven
years and five months.
The Skinner House. — This structure, of which
the artist has given a genuine and beautiful sketch, is
located in the southeast corner of Acton. Its stands
on rising ground, just off the main road, facing a
striking landscape towards the west, which includes
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSE'ITS.
the Assabet River, with Its picturesque scenery of
banks, foliage and bridge. The artist stood with this
view all in his rear, with what is embraced in the
sketch in front. The house was built in 1801, by Mr.
Simeon Hayward, the father of Mrs. Skinner. It
was at the time one of the most costly and tasteful
residences in the whole town and held that rank for
years. Even at this late date it will stand criticism
with many dwelling-houses more modern and expen-
That majestic elm which towers above the house
on the right is a hundred years old, and is a fair spe-
cimen of its cotemporaries distributed in all parts of
the town. Without them Acton would be shorn of
its distinguishing beauty. To the left is the carriage-
house and in the background the barn.
This house took the place of the old one which
stood just in the rear of this when Mrs. Skinner was
born, August 14, 1796. Her grandfather, Josiah Hay-
ward, moved on to this site in 1737, and had promi-
nence in the early history of the town. He and his
wife were allowed a seat in the first meeting-house
in 1737, which was considered at the time a marked
compliment to their intelligence and rank. On the
south and east sides of the house are many thick
trees to prevent accident in case of explosion at the
powder-mills which are built a short distance away
on the banks of the Assabet River.
Do not pause too long on the outskirts of this de-
lightful homestead. A knock at the door will give
you a welcome within. Here lives tbe oldest person
in town, — Mrs. Mary Skinner. On meeting her, she
takes you by the hand with a genial welcoming ex-
pression of the face which puts you at ease and
makes you glad that you came. *
One needs not the painted miniature done on ivory
when she was twenty-one years old to assure the
beauty of her youth. There are in her aged coun-
tenance no doubtful traces of that ear.y charm,
which made her a most attractive maiden. This in-
teresting old lady never tires in tellicg of the frolics
and festivities of her girlhood day*, and the doings of
the beaux and belles.
The young people for miles around used to meet
at the wayside inn, where many a grand ball and
party was given in honor of the loveiy Jerusha
Howe, the beauty of the town of Sudbury. Mrs.
Skinner went to the dancing-school when eight years
Do not miss the kind offer of Miss Dole, the faith-
ful attendant for years of the venerable Mrs. Skin-
ner, to visit the spare parlois. Here, one may fairly
revel among the old-fashioned portraits, curious-
shaped dishes and antique furniture. In a corner of
the parlor is a tiny piano of rosewood, with gilded
finishing and ornaments made eighty years ago. It
still has the clear sweet tone of ye olden time. Un-
derneath the key-board are three drawers to hold
music, each with little gilded knobs. There is some
exquite music-copying which Mrs. Skinner d d years
ago. Also many pictures which she painted ; but the
most interesting of all are the white satin .-hoes
which she wore when she was married. On a little
printed slip neatly pasted inside of one of them the
maker's name is given, mentioning that he kept a
variety store, and also that at his establishment cus-
tomers could have "rips mended gratis."
At the age of twenty-eight she married and re-
moved to Andover, Mass., where her husband, Mr.
Henry Skinner, was in business. She lived there
about four years, but after the death of her husband
and two children, who died within eleven days of
each other, she returned to her home, which she left
as a bride, and here she has lived ever since. At the
age of sixty-four she found it necessary to wear
glasses, but only for a short time, and now has re-
markable eye-sight. She keeps well informed through
tbe daily papers, and sits up until a late hour to have
the news read to her.
All her near relatives are dead. Her father,
Simeon Hayward, died June 5, 1803, when she was
seven years old. Her son, Henry Skinner, born two
months after the decease of her husband, graduated
from Harvard College before he was eighteen years
old, in 1846 — a civil engineer — died February 18,
1867. Her sister Betsey, who lived in ihe same
house with her, with her husband, Rev. Samuel Adams,
have both been dead for years. Betsey, when a
young maiden, by the election of the ladies of Acton,
presented to the Davis Blues an elegant standard
and bugle. The address on that occasion was marked
with st-ntiment and culture. It closes in these
words, — "Should ever our invaded country call you
to the onset you will unfurl your banner and remem-
ber that he whose name it bears sealed his patriotism
with his blood."
Her attendant for years says Mrs. Skinner has
a most lovely disposition. You allude to the many
changes and trials her of life, and she says, " My life
has been a favored one." She never speaks an unkind
word, is never out of patience with persons or things.
No matter what happens, it is always right — all right.
She has been kind to so many. No one knows how
many she has helped. No matter who comes with
a subscription paper she listens patiently and givts
cheerfully. When subscribing to bear the expense
of her husband's portrait and of the sketch of her
historic homestead, she said, " I may not be alive
when the picture is taken, but :t may do some one
In sickness her aim seems to be to relieve the care
of attendance. Only yesterday she quoted the re-
mark : Every person has three characters: 1. The
one which their neighbors give. 2. The one which
they themselves give. 3. The one which they really
are. They all seem to be blended in one in Mrs.
Mrs. Skinner has been for the larger portion of her
life a consistent member and liberal patron of the
Acton Church. She gave the pulpit to the new meet-
ing-house. Sitting in her cosy room, with its quaint
ornaments and substantial furnishings, her white
hands resting on her lap, she is a never-to-be-forgot-
ten picture of serene, happy old age, while all about
her there appears a peace above all earthly dignities
— a still and quiet conscience.
The Old Parsonage. — Town Records, January,
" Voted, that the select man appoint a town-meeting Tuesday, Jan. '25th,
1780, at one o'clock p.m., to see if the town will raise a sum of money
to make good that part of the Rev. Moses Adams' settlement that is to
he laid out in building him a dwelling-house 1 and pass any other votes
that may he thought proper when met Relating to settlement or the
pay of the workers that have Don Labour on said house.
" Acton, Jan. 31, 1780."
The town being met according to adjournment by
reason of the severity of the weather adjourned the
meeting to the house of Caroline" Brooks, in order to
do the business, and proceeded as follows : On the
second article it was voted "to allow the artificers
that worked at Rev. Mr. Adams' house 15 dollars per
day and ten Dollars for common Labour, 24s. per
mile for carting."
" Voted, three thousand Pounds to make good the one Hundred Pound
of Rev. Mr. Adams' settlement.
" Voted, three Thousand five hundred and sixty to Pounds to the Rev.
Mr. Adams for his sallary this present year."
These figures show the depreciation of the currency
during the Revolutionary period.
We proceed in our historic ramble, reluctant to
part from the ancient " Knowl " where stood the First
Church of Acton for threescore years and ten.
We drift on this tidal-wave of past reminiscences,
and the drift takes us at once down the road a few
rods to the northwest, where sits to-day so grace-
fully the old parsonage of our fathers and grand-
fathers and mothers and grandmothers of ye olden
time. It faces tjie gentle slope in front to the south-
east, looking towards the Hill of Zion on the " Knowl "
and ye old Acton Common and the Brooks Tavern
just beyond, now all gone to rest. It is a quaint old
mansion, with a stately elm standing over it i;i all
the majesty of years. The structure was built five
years after the Concord Fight, 1780.
The side of the house faces the street and is three
stories. \U front, built on a hillside, is half three and
the other half two stories. A long flight of steps leads
up to a large portico, which makes the front entrance
overlooking the green fields and orchards just beyond.
The chimney rises in the centre of the roof some
three feet high and six feet wide. Its four flues
answer all household purposes. The lilac bushes and
the yellow lily bed on the roadside, just outside the
wall, are still flourishing as in the earliest recollec-
tion of the oldest persons now living.
Moses Taylor, Esq., has done a great service to the
future public by purchasing this estate and restoring
the faded tints of early days — green blinds, light yel-
low, the main color of the house, with white trim-
mings. It is now presentable to the eye of the anti-
quarian, and even to the modern critic.
When laying out the new sidewalk leading up to
the village, Mr. Taylor said : "Spare the lilac bushes
and lily-bed. They shall remain for old memory's
sake. I used to go by these loved relics in school-
day times, and they are to me now even dearer and
sweeter than when a boy."
Mrs. Adams, the wife of Rev. Moses Adams, the
second minister, a very energetic lady and a notable
housekeeper, kept store in the basement story. Keep-
ing store, added to her maternal duties, as the mother
of three sons and three daughters, house-work, spin-
ning, weaving, knitting and cheese-making, to say
nothing of parish duties, must have made for her a busy
life, and this part of the house at least must have
been a lively centre for the earthly activities of the
parsonage. The upper part of the house was the
scene of the pastor's private study, and contained
rooms neatly furnished for those times and ever
ready to receive guests from abroad.
Rev. Moses Adams, the first pastor occupying this
house, had been selected with great care. In May,
1776, the town chose a committee to take advice of
the president of the college and the neighboring
ministers and to engage four candidates to preach
four Sabbaths each in succession. One of the four
was Moses Adams. He, like his predecessor, Rev.
Mr. Swift, was a native of Framingham. He was
born October 16, 1749, and graduated at Cambridge,
1771. On the 29th of August, 1776, it was voted "to
hear Mr. Moses Adams eight Sabbaths longer on
probation," and on the 20th of December " to hear
Mr. Moses Adams four Sabbaths longer than isagretd
In the mean time the church had appointed the
2d day of January for a fast, and had invited the
neighboring ministers to attend on the occasion. On
the 8th day of January they made choice of Mr.
Adams to take the oversight and charge of the church.
The choice was confirmed by the town on the
15th of the same month. At an adjournment of
that meeting, on the 17th of March, an offer was made
of £200 settlement and £80 salary in lawful money,
according 6s. 8d. per ounce. It was also voted to pro-
vide him with fire-wood the first year after his settle-
ment. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Adams
was ordained on the 25th day of June, 1777, then in
his twenty-eighth year.
He was the only child of respectable but humble
parents. By the death of both parents he became an
orphan at the age of seven years. The property left
him was sufficient, wiili economy, to defray the ex-
pense of a public education. The first years of his
ministry were attended with considerable pecuniary
embarrassment, for, although precaution was taken to
make the salary payable in silver, yet the value of
that compared with the necessaries of life very con-
siderably decreased. . -
The promptness and spirit with which the people
of Acton met the calls of the Government for the
support of the war rendered them less able to pay their
minister. His settlement had been relied on to meet
the expenses of building a house, which a young and
increasing family made a matter of necessity. The
settlement was not wholly paid for several years.
The subject was agitated at two meetings in 1781,
and in February, 1782, the selectmen were directed
to pay the remaining balance.
In 1783 Mr. Adams, in a communication which is
recorded, made a statement of £123, which he con-
sidered his due for balances unpaid of his three first
years' salary, accompanied by an offer to deduct £43
if the remainder should be paid or put on interest.
It is not certain whether this was a legal or merely
an equitable claim, but the town promptly acceded
to the proposal. In justice to the town it should be
observed that so far as it regards their pecuniary
dealings with their two first ministers a liberality and
sense of justice is manifest, with few exceptions, from
the beginning to the end of the records. There were
other negotiations in regard to the salary. It was all,
however, in perfect good feeling and in accordance
with the respect and affection which existed between
Mr. Adams and his people through the whole period
of his long ministry of forty-two years.
He died on the 13th of October, 1819, and was bur-
ied on the 16th, which was the seventieth anniversary
of his death. -i-> / r ^
In consequence of his request in writing — which was
found after his decease — no sermon was delivered at Lis
funeral. To anticipate the silent tear was more to
him than the voice of praise. He had days of pros-
perity and he knew how to enjoy them. He witness-
ed seasons of sorrow and bore them with rare equa-
nimity. In public duties,, in social intercourse, in
the schools, in the transactions of private life, he
carried himself with a genial but serene self-poise
commanding universal confidence, veneiation and
The house where such a man lived and died, whose
walls witnessed the mental struggles of his closet and
study, the composition of his four thousand sermons,
the training and education of his children, and of those
from abroad, fitting for college under his care, is a
hallowed retreat calling for a tender appreciation by
all who shall hereafter gaze upon this memorial
structure. The following items have been copied
from the town records, in regard to his children.
Moses, son of Moses and Abigail Adams, born Novem-
ber 28, 1777; Mabby, daughter, born January 21, 1780 ;
Josiah, born November 3, 1781 ; Joseph, born Septem-
ber 25, 1783 ; Clarissa, born July 13, 1785.
We must not leave the site too hastily ; still another
chapter of records opens upon our vision right here
The pulpit was constantly supplied by the town
during the last sickness of Mr. Adams, and after his
decease. In the next month a committee was chosen
to procure a candidate. They engnged Mr. Marshall
Shedd, who was graduated at Dartmouth in 1817, and
was then a member of the Rev. Mr. Greenough's
church in Newton, Massachusetts, which wa3 his
native town^CCL-mW l^lge A 1*7. 9 . 1 7 * ^ .
On the 20th of February, 1820, Mr. Shedd was
unanimously invited by the church to become their
pastor, and on the 13th of March the town unani-
mously voted to give him a call. Five hundred dol-
lars was offered as a settlement, which was increased
by subscription and the salary was fixed at six hun-
dred dollars, with fifteen cords of wood. In case of
permanent inability the salary was to be reduced to
two hundred dollars. This liberal offer was accepted,
and on the 10th of May Mr. Shedd was ordained
pastor of the church and minister of the congrega-
tion in Acton. •
The ordaining council consisted of Mr. Willard,
of Boxborough ; Mr. Newell, of Stow ; Mr. Greenough,
of Newton; Mr. Litchfield, of Carlisle; Dr. Ripley,
of Concord ; Dr. Homer, of Newton ; Mr. Foster, of
Littleton ; Dr. Holmes, of Cambridge; Mr. B'ake, of
Westford ; Dr. Pierce, of Brookline ; Mr. Noyes,
of Needham ; Mr. Hulbert, of Sudbury, with delegates
from their respective churches. Such a combination
of religious opinions in an ordaining council obtained
by a unanimous vote of both church and congrega-
tion was very remarkable at that period, and dis-
covers a liberality of Christian feeling which is worthy
of all imitation.
Mr. Shedd was a pious, peaceable and exemplary
minister, with more than ordinary talents and indus-
trious in the discharge of duty. It was a time of
great religious conflict. The heat of controversy
became intense in all this vicinity of towns, resulting
in the division of churches and congregations.
Parochial difficulties multiplied in all directions.
Acton began to feel the irritations of the epoch. Mr.
Shedd labored to harmonize the colliding elements,
but the lines of divergence were too sharply drawn,
and he bowed to the inevitable and gracefully retired.
Providence opened to him, as he thought, a more
hopeful field for himself and family in what was then
the new settlements in Northern New York, he decid-
ed to enter it, and in May, 1831, the corporation, which
was now called a parish, concurred with the church
in granting Mr. Shedd's request that his connection
might be dissolved, and in thesame month that agree-
ment was confirmed by an ecclesiastical council.
Mr. Shedd came to Acton a married man, his
companion having been born in Newton, like himself
a Mi>s Eliza Thayer, daughter of Obadiah Thayer.
He resided with Mr. Shedd in Acton at the parsonage.
He is still remembered by some of the oldest in-
habitants of Acton as a man of great excellence of
character, a rare mingling of refined and positive
traits, an unswerving advocate of truth and righteous-
ness. He died intftfillsborough, N. Y., in 1834.
THE OLD PARSONAGE.
The first year of Mr. Shedd's pastorate was event-
ful. On the 10th of May he was ordained. On the
21st of June he became the father of one of the most
notable and worthy men now living. It is no ordin-
ary honor for the parsonage and the town to be the
birth-place of Rev. Prof. William G. T. Shedd, D.D.
The simple surface record of the man runs thus :
born in Acton, June 21, 1820; graduated at the
University of Vermont, Burlington, in 1839; at
Andover Seminary in 1843 ; pastor of Brandon,
Vermont, 1843-45 ; Professor of Engli-h Literature
in the University of Vermont, 1845-52; Professor
of Sacred Rhetoric and Pastoral Theology in
Auburn Seminary, 1852-54; Professor of Ecclesi-
astical History and Pastoral Theology in Andover
Seminary, 1854-62 ; co-pastor of the Brick Presby-
terian Church, New York City, 1862-63 ; Professor
of Sacred Literature in Union Theological Seminary,
New York City, 1863-74; Professor of Systematic
Theology in Union Seminary since 1874.
His publications are: History of Christian Doc-
trine, Theological Essays, Literary Essays, Homiletics
and Pastoral Theology, Sermons to the Natural
Man, Translation of Guericke's Church History,
Translation of Theremin's Rhetoric.
He has adorned every position which he has
touched. He is a scholar, a gentleman, an author, a
preacher, a philosopher, a theologian, a Christian of
the very highest order in the land, and so acknowl-
edged even by those not always agreeing with his
He has not forgotten his birth-p'ace or the scenes
of his boyhood, though leaving the place when eleven
years old and visiting it but twice since that time.
He remembers his old family physician, Dr. Cowdry ;
Deacon Silas Hosmer, one of the officers of the church,
who died at the age of eighty-four ; the two Fletchers,
Deacon John and his brother James; (he Faulkner
mills, where there were about a dozen houses when
last he saw it ; East Acton, the place where he went
to take the stage, upon the main road, when great
journeys were to be made; Wetherbee's Hotel and
some fine old elms, which he hopes are still standing;
Deacon Phineas Wheeler and his grist-mill, to which
he often carried the grist ; the Common in Acton
Centre, now covered with fine shade-trees, where
there was not a single tree of any kind when he
played ball upon it in his boyhood ; those inscrip-
tions upon the grave-stones around the monument
which he used to read when a boy in the old ceme-
tery ; the huckleberry and blueberry bushes still
growing in the same rough pastures, where he has
picked many a quart.
He is now in his seventieth year, but there are
some still living who recall his early days on the
street and at the parsonage. He was a model youth,
and had in him at the start elements which all recog-
nized as the promise of his future career, if his life
should be spared.
The following tributes to the memory of his father
and mother were received in a letter from him dated
December 23, 1889: "My father lived to the great
age of eighty-five, dying in Willsborough, N. Y., in
1872. After leaving Acton he was never settled as a
pastor, but for many years, until age and infirmities
prevented, he preached to the feeble churches in
the region, and did a great and good work in the
moral and religious up-building of society. My
mother died soon after our family removed to
Northern New York, which was in October, 1831.
She departed this life in February, 1833. I was
only twelve years of age, but the impress she made
upon me in those twelve years is greater than that
made by any other human being, or than all other
human beings collectively."
In the same letter he gives this record of his
two brothers — younger than himself — whom several
old schoolmates, now living in Acton, remember
with interest. Marshall died in Wlisborouijh, N. Y.,
in 1879, in the Christian faith and hope. The
younger brother, Henry S., is living, and for more
than twenty years has been connected with the
post-office in this city (New York).
The Acton town records give the following dates
of birth : William G. Thayer Shedd, son of Marshall
and Eliza Shedd, born June 21, 1820; Marshall, born
April 11, 1822; Henry Spring Shedd, born February
21, 1824; Elizabeth Thayer Shedd, born September
9, 1825. In his last brief visit to Acton several
years ago he said in conversation: " The old scenes
and persons in Acton come back from my boyhood
memories with outlines of distinctness more and
more vivid as the years go by."
Revolutionary Preliminaries. — At a special
meeting in January, 1768, the town voted " to comply
with the proposals sent to the town by the town of
Boston, relating to the encouragement of manufac-
ture among ourselves and not purchasing superflui-
ties from abroad."
In September of that year Joseph Fletcher was
chosen to sit in a convention at Boston, to be holden
on the 22d of that month.
Action of the Town on the memorable 5th of March, 1770.
"Taking into consideration the distressed circumstances tliat tills
Province and all North America are involved in by reaBon(s) of the
Acts of Parliament imposing duties and taxes for the sole purpose to
raise a Revenue, and when the Royal ear seems to be stopt against all
our humble Prayers and petitions for redress of grievances, and consid-
ering the Salutary Measures that the Body of Merchants and Traders in
this province have come into in order for the redress of the many
troubles that we are involved in, and to support and maintain our
Charter Rights and Privilego and to prevent our totnl Ruin aud De-
struction, taking all these things into serious Consideration, came into
the following votes :
"1st. That we will useourutmost endeavorsto encourage and support
the body of merchants and traders in their endeavors to retrieve this
Province out of its present Distresses to whom this Town vote their
thanksfor the Constitutional and spirited measures pursued by them for
the good of this Province.
" 2. That from this Time we will have no commercial or social connec-
tion with those who at this time do refuse to contribute to the relief of
this abused country— especially those that import British Goods contrary
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
to the Agreement of the body of merchants in Boston or elsewhere,
that we will not afford them our Custom, but treat them with the ut-
most neglect anil all those who countenance them.
" 3. That we will use our ulmost endeavors to prevent the consump-
tion of all foreign superfluities, and that we will use our utmost En-
deavors to promote and encourage our own manufactures.
"4. That the Town Clerk transmit a copy of these votes of the Town
to the Committee of Merchants of inspection at Boston.
" A true copy attested.
" Francis Faulkner,
" Town Clerk."
A committee of nine of the principal men of the
town was appointed to consider the rights of the
Colony and the violation of said rights, and draft such
votes as they thought proper.
In January, 1773, the following report of the Com-
mittee was accepted and adopted :
"Taking into serious consideration the alarming circumstances of
the Province relating to the violation of our charter rights and privi-
leges (as we apprehend) by the British administration, we are of opin-
ion : That the rights of the Colonists natural, ecclesiastical and civil
are well stated by the Town of Boston.
"And it is our opinion that the taxing of us without our consent —
the making the Governor of the Province and the Judges of the Supreme
Court independent of the people and dependent on the Crown, out of
money extorted from us, and many other instances of encroachments
upon our said charter rights are intolerable grievances, and have a di-
rect tendency to overthrow our happy constitution and bring us into a
state of abject slavery.
" But we have a gracious Sovereign, who is the Father of America
as well as Great Britain, and as the man in whom ve have had no con-
fidence is removed from before the Throne and another in whom we
hope to have reason to put confidence placed in his stead, we hope that
our petitions will be for warded and heard, and all our grievances re-
" Voted also, that as we have no member in the house of Representa-
tives, we earnestly recommend it to the Representative Body of this
Province that you gentlemen, inspect with a jealous eye our charter
rights and privileges, and that you use every constitutional method to
obtain redress of all our grievances, and that you strenuously endeavor
in such ways as you in your wisdom think fit, that the honorable judges
of the Supreme Court may have their support as formerly agreeable to
the charter of the Province.
''Voted, That the sincere thanks of the Town be given to the inhabit-
ants of the Town of Boston for their spirited endeavors to preserve our
rights and privileges inviolate when threatened with destruction.
In March, 1774, resolutions were passed with refer-
ence to paying duty on tea belonging to the East
In August, 1774, three of the principal citizens of
the town were appointed delegates to a County Con-
vention to be holden in Concord the 30th of that
In October of the same year two of the three dele-
gates referred to above were chosen to sit in a Pro-
vincial Congress, which was to assemble at Concord
soon, and at the same meeting a Committee of Cor-
respondence was appointed.
In December, 1774, £25 was voted for the use of
the Province, and a vote was passed to indemnify the
assessors for not making returns to the British gov-
ernment. It was also voted to join the association of
the Continental Congress, and a committee was ap-
pointed to see that all inhabitants above sixteen years
of age signed their compliance, and that the names of
those who did not sign should be reported to the Com-
mittee of Correspondence. Samuel Hay ward, Francis
Faulkner, Jonathan Billings, Josiah Hay-ward, John
Heald, Jr., Joseph Robbins and Simon Tuttle were
chosen a committee for that purpose.
In November, 1774, a company of minute-men was
raised by voluntary enlistment, and elected Isaac
Davis for their commander. The company by agree-
ment met for discipline twice in each week, through
the winter and spring till the fight at Concord.
In January the town voted to pay them eight pence
for every meeting till the 1st of May, provided they
should be on duty as much as three hours, and should
attend within half an hour the time appointed for the
In the winter of 1774-7 the town had two militia
companies, one in the south and one in the east.
In 1775 Josiah Hayward was twice chosen a dele-
gate to the Provincial Congress at Cambridge.
In June, 1776, a vote was passed giving the follow-
ing instructions to the representative of the town :
" To Mr. Mark White :
"Sir, — Our not being favored with the resolution to the Honorab le
House of Representatives, calling upon the several towns in this
Colony to express their minds with respect to the important question of
American Independence is the occasion of our not expressing our
" But we now cheerfully embrace this opportunity to instruct you on
that important question.
" The subverting our Constitrrtion, the many injuries and unheard of
barbarities which the Colonies have received from Great Britain, confirm
us in the opinion that the present age will bo deficient in their duty to
God, their posterity and themselves, if they do not establish an Ameri-
can Republic. This is the only form of Government we wish to see es-
" But we mean not to dictate —
" We freely submit this interesting affair to the wisdom of the Conti-
nental Congress, who, we trust, are guided and directed by the Supreme
Governor of the world, and we instruct you, sir, to give them the
strongest assurance that, if they should declare America to be a Free
and Independent Republic, your constituents will Bupport and defend
the measure with their lives and fortunes."
In October, 1776, when a proposition was before
the people that the executive and legislative branches
of the. Provincial Government should frame a Consti-
tution for the State, the town of Acton committed the
subject to Francis Faulkner, Ephraim Hapgood,
Samuel Hayward, Ephraim Hosmer, Joseph Robbins
and Nathaniel Edwards, who reported the following
resolutions, which were unanimously accepted :
" 1st. Remlved, that as this State is at present destitute of an estab-
lished form of Government, it is necessary one should be immediately
formed and established.
"2. Resolved. That the Supreme Legislature in that capacity are by no
means a body proper to form and establish a constitution for the follow-
ing reasons, viz.:
" Because a constitution properly formed has a system of principles es-
tablished to secure subjects in the possession of their rights and privileges
against any encroachments of the Leg-slative part, and it is our opinion
that the same body which has a right to form a constitution has a right
to alter it, and we conceive a constitution alterable by the Supreme
Legislative power is no security to the subjects againBt the encroach-
ments of that power on our rights and privileges.
"Resolved, that the town thinks it expedient that a convention he
chosen by the inhabitants of the several towns and districts in this
State being free to form and establish a constitution for the State.
" Rerolvd, That the Honorable Assembly of this State be desired to
recommend to the inhabitants of the State to choose a convention for
the above purpose as soon as possible.
" Retained, that the Convention publish their proposed constitution lie-
fore they establish it for tlio Inspection and remarks of the Inhabitants
of this State."
At a meeting in February, 1778, " the United States
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union,"
after being twice read, were accepted by the town.
In May, 1778, a Constitution and frame of govern-
ment for the State, which had been formed by the
General Court, was laid before the town for consid-
eration, and was rejected by a vote of fifty-one to
The instrument was so offensive to the inhabitants
that in May, 1779, an article being inserted in the
warrant, " to see if the town will choose at this time
to have a new Constitution or frame of government,"
the constitution was rejected.
The proposition, however, though rejected by this
town, was accepted by a majority of the people, and
in July, 1779. Francis Faulkner was chosen a dele-
gate to sit in a convention in Cambridge to form
a Constitution, and the result was that the present
Constitution of this Commonwealth was laid before
the town for consideration on the 28th day of April,
1780,, and it being read, the meeting was adjourned
for consideration till the 15th of May.
On that the articles were debated, and at a further
adjournment on the 29th of the same month every
article was approved by a majority of more than two-
thirds of the voters. These simple records show he-
roic grit, combined statesmanship and patriotism
worthy of those olden dates and worthy of any dates
since or of any that are to follow.
The Faulkner House (South Acton). — This is
the oldest house now standing in Acton. You go
from the railroad station south across the bridge and
ascend the steep hill, and you at once approach the
ancient structure. It has on its face and surroundings
an impress of age, which strikes the eye at first
glance, and the impress deepens as the eye tarries for
a second look.
Colonel Winthrop E. Faulkner, who died March
25, 1880, aged seventy-five years, used to say that
they told him when a child it must have been 150 years
old then. No tongue and no records fix the original
date of this ancient landmark. It is safe to call it
200 years old, some parts of it at least.
It was a block-house, and in the early Colonial
times it was a garrison-house where the settlers in
the neighborhood would gather in the night for pro-
tection against the assaults of the Indians.
Enter the southwest room. It will easily accom-
modate 100 persons. It is a square room neatly kept
and furnished with antique mementos. Raise your
hand and you easily touch the projecting beams of
dry hard oak, which the sharpest steel cannot cleave,
eighteen inches solid. The space between the beams
of the sides of the room are filled with brick, which
make it fire-proof against the shot of the enemy.
You notice the two small glass windows as large as
an orange in the entering door of this room. They
were for use in watching the proceeding of the courts
which once were held here by Francis Faulkner, the
Measure the old chimney, nine feet by seven, solid
brick furnished with three large fire-places and an
oven below and an oven above in the attic for smok-
ing hams, large enough to accommodate all the neigh-
bors and hooks attached in the arch where the hams
could remain suspended till called for.
Mark that fine photograph on the wall. It is the
life-like face of Colonel Winthrop E. Faulkner.
Give him a royal greeting, for he was the life of the
village and town in childhood's days and in later
years, and there comes his aged widow, still living and
gracing the old homestead and guarding the precious
relics, now in her eigh:y-third year.
Mrs. Lottie Flagg, her daughter, the veteran and
successful school-teachf r, who does a noble work in
helping the outfit and hospitality of this historic site.
-Note her words as she repeats the tale of this rally-
ing centre on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775.
Francis Faulkner, Jr., a boy of fifteen years, was
lying awake early in the morning, no one yet moving
and listening to the clatter of a horse's feet drawing
nearer and nearer. Suddenly he leaped from his bed,
ran into his father's room and cried out, " Father,
there's a horse coming on the full run and he's bring-
ing news." His father, Colonel Francis, already had
on his pantaloons and his gun in his hand. The fleet
horseman wheeled across the bridge and up to the
house, and shouted, " Rouse your minute-men, Mr.
Faulkner! The British are marching on Lexington
and Concord," and away he went to spread the news.
Mr. Faulkner, without stopping to dress, fired three
times as fast as he could load and fire — that being the
preconcerted signal to call out the minute men.
"And so, through the night, went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm ;
A cry of defiance, and not of fear ;
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forever more."
Being the chairman of safety and colonel of the
Middlesex Regiment of Militia — the men were to as-
semble at his house. Almost immediately a neighbor
repeated the signal and the boy Francis listened with
breathless interest to hear the signal guns grow faint-
er and fainter off in the distant farm-houses. Signal-
fires were also lighted, and every house awoke from
its slumbers to the new era. By this time the family
were all up in the greatest commotion — the younger
children crying because the British would come and
•kill them. Very soon the minute-men began to come
in, every one with his guD, powder-horn, pouch of
bullets and a piece of bread and cheese, the only
breakfast he proposed to make before meeting the en-
emy of his country. Some came hurrying in with
their wives and children in the greatest excitement, to
get more certain news and to know what was to be
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
done. Word came from Captain Davis that he would
march as soon as thirty should come in. In the mean
time they were busy in driving down stakes on the
lawn and hanging kettles for cooking the soldiers'
dinners. They brought from the houses beef and
pork, patatoesand cabbages. The women would cook
the dinner, and some of the elder boys, of whom
Francis, Jr., was one, weredesiguatedtobringitalong
packed in saddle-bags. By the time these prelimin-
aries for dinner were made Lieutenant 'Hunt took
command of the West Militia Company, Capt. Faulk-
ner having a few days before been promoted to the
position of colonel of the Middlesex Regiment.
The line was formed on the lawn south of the
house, and they marched amid the tears of their fam-
ilies. Colonel Faulkner accompanied them to take
command of the Middlesex Regiment, as the other
companies would come in at Concord. Uncle Fran-
cis, the boy, waited with great impatience for the
dinner to be cooked and packed. Every woman
wanted to prepare the dinner complete and separate
for her husband or sons. But after much discussion
it was agreed to pack all the beef and pork, bread and
vegetables, each kind by itself, and let the men them-
selves divide it. At length, after some hours of talk-
ing and boiling and packing, the horses were loaded,
and the boys started off.
I asked Uncle Francis why in the world they did not
take a wagon, and one horse wonld be enough for the
whole. Didn't they know enough to do that? "Oh,
yes — they knew too much to do that," he said. The
British soldiers might have the road. If we saw a
red-coat we were told to give him a wide birth, or he
might get us and our dinner. We could quietly top-
ple over a stone wall or take out a few rails and escape
through the fields and find our men wherever they
might be. To the great surprise of the boy he found
the Acton men iu the highest spirits. They had made
the re<l-coats run for their lives.
This house is so associated with the history of the
Faulkner family, and this family is so blended with
the history of the town, that a brief family record is
Francis Faulkner, the father of Ammiruhammah,
and the grandfather of Col. Francis Faulkner, was a
rtsident of Andover, Mass., and married Abigail
Dane, daughter of Rev. Francis Dane, the second
minister of Andover, a woman of noble character and
exemplary piety. She was accused of witchcraft, tried
and condemned to death. She passed through the terri-
ble ordeal with unshaken firmness, and the sentence
Ammiruhammah Faulkner, son of Francis, came '
from Andover and settled in " Concord Village," in
1735, at the "great falls." of the "Great Brook,"
where he erected the mills which have since been
owned and occupied by his descendants, where he
died Aug. 4. 1756, aged sixty-four.
Col. Francis Faulkner, son of Ammiruhammah,
was born in Andover, Mass., Sept. 29, 1728, and died
in Acton Aug. 5, 1805, aged seventy seven. He mar-
ried Lizzie Mussey April 29, 1756. He was a member
of the Provincial Congress held in Concord, 1774,
and represented the town of Acton in the Legislature
of 1783-4-5. He had a military commission under
George IN., but the oppressive and arbitrary acts of
Great Britain induced him to renounce his allegiance
to the crown. In 1775 he was elected major of a reg-
iment organized to "oppose invasion."
On the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, he
marched with the Acton patriots to the Concord
North Bridge, where he engaged the British, and with
his men pursued them to Charlestown. He was sev-
eral times engaged in actual service during the war,
being lieutenant-colonel in the Regiment Middlesex
Militia called to reinforce the Continental Army at
;he occupation of Dorchester Heights, in March, 1776.
He was in service when Burgoyne was taken, and
commanded the regiment which guarded the prison-
ers on that occasion. He was a courageous officer, an
able legislator and an exemplary Christian. He
built the mills which for a century and a half have
been k nown as the Faulkner Mills, now of South
Acton. They were first only a saw and a grist-mill,
the two most indispensable agents of civilization and
comfort in a new country. To these was added in
due time a fulling-mill, which was among the very
earliest efforts at the manufacture of woolen cloth in
There was first a carding-machine, which changed
as by magic the wool into beautiful rolls. They were
distributed to many houses to be spun and woven icto
rough woolen cloth and returned to the mill. Here
the cloth was fulled under stampers with soap, which
made it foam and helped cleanse and thicken it up.
The process of f aising nap with teazles was exceed-
ingly interesting. The teazle w«s a product of nature
and seemed expressly and wonderfully created for
that very purpose. Then came the shearing off in-
equalities by the swift revolving shears and the final
finishing up into cloth. When the wool was of fine
quality and evenly spun the result was a passable
broadcloth of great durability.
In order to encourage wool production and skill in
using it, prizes were offered for the finest specimen of
home-made broadcloth — that is, the wool, the spin-
ning and weaving were of home ; the rest was of the
fulling-mill. This spinning and weaving were the
fine arts of our grandmothers and greaf-grandmothers,
and noble women were proud of the prizes they won.
A prize to a spinster was sure to attract the most
flattering attention and take her speedily out of spin-
Colonel Faulkner was not only an active, energetic
"clothier," but also a leading citizen in all public in-
terests. For thirty-five successive years he was
chosen town clerk, and the records are kept with
neatness, clearness and order. (See Cyrus Hamlin's
WINTHROP E. FAULKNER.
Historical Sketch, read before Historical Society at
Winthrop Faulkner, the son of Francis, was born
in Acton March 21, 1774. and died in Acton March
17, 1813. He received a justice's commission at the
age of twenty-three. He was a man of cultivated
mind and sound judgment, and his advice was gener-
ally sought for all important town matters. He
was one of the original members of the Corinthian
Lodge of Masons in Concord.
Colonel Winthop E. Faulkner.— He was the
son of Winthrop Faulkner, born April 16, 1805, and
died March 25, 1880. He was initiated into the Co-
rinthian Lodge of Masons in 1854. He married
Martha Adams Bixby, of Framingham. He was
noted in all the relations of life. He was an enter-
prising miller, an enthusiast in music, dancing, mili-
tary, civil, social and parish activities. He was a
pushing man, forward in all enterprises for the pub-
lic improvement. He was one of the prime movers
in projecting the Fitchburg Railroad, and but for his
enterprise in controlling the first plans, the road
would have gone in another direction. He was for a
long run of years one of the most active directors.
The Bobbins House. — Returning from the
Fletcher homestead to the main road, and proceeding
direct by the cemetery and beyond till we reach
nearly the brow of the hill on the left, we come to the
site of what was for to many years called the Robbins
House. The land on which it was located was pur-
chased of Captain Thomas Wheeler, whose house (the
first in Acton) was located a few rods to the south,
near the little brook before described in this narra-
tive. When the latter house was taken down the
timbers were found to be in good condition, and were
used in the construction of the L part of Nathan
It was an historic structure from the start, and was
emphatically so after the 19th of April, 1775. "Be-
fore light on that eventful morning, hours before the
British entered Concord, a horseman, whose name
was never known, going at full spe.ed (they spared
neither horseflesh nor manflesh in those days), rode
up to this house, then occupied by Captain Joseph
Robbins, the commissioned officer in the town of
Acton, who lived nearest North Bridge, and struck
with a large, heavy club, as they thought, the corner
of the house, never dismounting, but crying out at
the top of his voice, ' Capt. Robbins! Capt. Robbins!
up, up ! The Regulars have come to Concord. Ren-
dezvous at old North Bridge! quick as possible
alarm Acton.' "
His only son — afterwards a venerable magistrate —
John Robbins, Esq., was then asleep in the garret —
a lad ten years old.
But "those rappings" — and there was no sham
about them — and that cry brought him to his feet
inslanter and every other living man in that house.
It waked the babe in the cradle. In a few minutes
he was on "father's old mare," bound for Captain
Davis's, not a mile off, who commanded the minute-
men, and then to Deacon Simon Hunt's, in the west
part of the town, who commanded the West Company
as first lieutenant, Captain Francis Faulkner having,
a lew days before, been promoted to be major, and the
vacancy not having been filled.
" The harrying footstepe of that steed
The late of a uatijn was riding that night."
The locality where this house stood is easily recog-
nized from the indications on the ground. It was a
two-story building. The barn was struck by light-
ning in the year 1830, and was rapidly consumed.
The citizens rallied to save the building, or at least
part of it, but Esq. Robbins shouted out with his
stentorian voice : "Boys, save your fingers. There is
plenty of timber in the woods where this came from ! '*
He knew how to shout, for he was often moderator of
the Acton town-meetings, which gave him a good
chance to drill in that liue of practice. The house
stood afterwards for years unoccupied, but at last it
yielded to the destiny of flames, supposed to have
been an accide'&tal fire, from the carelessness of tran-
sient occupants. The old door-stone still remains in
position, battered somewhat by relic-hunters, who
have chipped from it for the sake of a memento. A
tablet memorial will some day be erected on this
ground befitting its historic interest.
The report of this house having been haunted in
former years is easily credited by the superstitious,
but denied by Lhe more phlegmatic crowd. That
those April rappings should have reverberations long
continued is credible, and any one going by of an
imaginative and appreciative turn of mind can hear
them still ringing iu his ears.
Captain Davis' Route to the North Bridge. —
The 19th of April, 1775. It was a bright, genial
morning. The sun was up at a good, cheery height
of an hour and a half. The birds were chanting the
very best songs of the opening spring. The men were
drawn up in line. The captain at last gave the word
"march." Luther Blanchard, the fifer, and Francis
Barker, the drummer, struck at once the stirring notes
of the " White Cockade," and forward they moved
with a quick, brave step. They soon reached the
homestead of Parson Swift. -They could not stop for
the greetings or the partings of the good man, but ou
they pressed, with their faces set for Mother Concord.
They moved along over the old and only road leading
from the present site of Deacon W. W. Davis' cross-
ing in a straight line through to the meeting-house
on the " knowll."
The road struck the other road just below Dr. Cow-
dry's barn, where now stands Deacon John Fletcher's
barn, just relocated by Moses Taylor, Esq. The old
road-bed was found when recently digging the cellar
for the barn.
They could not stop for the silent benedictions of
the old church, but the prayers and blessings of the
p;istor they could hear, and march all the. faster for
the memory. The handkerchiefs waving from the
Brooks Tavern doors and windows helped the thrill of
the hour. Down the hills they moved by the present
site of Mr. McCarthy, up the ascent 10 the right, over
the heights on the road path, now closed, but still a
favorite walk down the hill, across the Revolutionary
Bridge, west of Horace Hosmer's present site, the
road leading by the spot where the elms south of his
house now stand.
This bridge stood very near the spot where the
railroad bridge now stands. Some of the stone which
formed the abutments of the old bridge were used in
the construction of the railroad bridge. The bridge,
a few rods to the south of the original, has been
sketched by Arthur F. Davis, Acton's young artist,
and it is a favorite landscape etching on sale in the
Up the hill they hasten and turn to the right, going
by Mr. Hammond Taylor's present residence, the old
Brabrook homestead, on the south side, which was
then the front side, the road on the north being a
comparatively new opening; there thlry left the main
road, struck through the woods, taking a bee-line to
their deslined point. After passing the woods, the
march is by the Nathan Brooks place, now owned
and occupied by Mr. H. F. Davis. The passage
then was by the nearest way to Barrett's Mills, as
then called, not far from the North Bridge.
Luther Blanchard. — He was born within the
limits of what is now Boxboro', a part of Littleton at
the time of the Concord Fight. He was a favorite
young man, tall, straight, handsome and athletic.
He was living at the time with Abner Hosmer, a
mason, whose residence was the site of Mr. Herman
A. Gould, on the South Acton road, from the West,
making him a near neighbor to Captain Davis. He
was learning the mason's trade. He was a notable
fifer, and his skill and zeal on the morning of the
19th had much to do wiih the spirit of the whole
occasion. The scene was just adapted to wake the
musical genius to its highest pitch, and if there were
any white feathers around they soon changed to fiery
red at the signal from Luther's fife. When they
began firing at the bridge, the British at first used
blank cartridges. Captain Davis inquired if they were
firing: bullets. Luther said " Yes," for one had hit him
and he was wounded. "If it had gone an inch fur-
ther one way it would have killed me, and if an inch
in the opposite direction it would have not have hit
me at all." He followed on in the pursuit of the
British on their retreat to Boston, fifing with all the
vigor of his manly strength, which grew less as the
excitement of the day bfgan to tell upon his wasted
forces. The wound, which he did not think serious
at firs', grew worse as he proceeded, and on reaching
Cambridge he was obliged to be taken to a hospital,
where he died.
Mrs. Jona'.han B. Davis, a daughter of Simon Hos-
mer, often told these facts to Mr. Luke Blanchard,
now living. It was the statement of Mr. Luke
Blanchard's father, who was always careful in what
he affirmed, that Luther died from the effects of his
wound. Luther Blanchard's brother Calvin died from
the fall of a tree. He helped tear down barns to
build the fort on Bunker Hill. He would carry one
end of the timber while it would take two men at the
other end to balance.
Luther and Cilvin Blanchard's father was in the
fight at Quebec, and lost his life on the Plains of
Abraham. There must have been patriotic gun-
powder in the very blood of the Blanchards at the
Aaron Jones was near Captain Davis when he fell,
and followed in pursuit of the British on their re-
treat. He never could forget that morning or speak
of it without a changed tone and face. He thought
much of Luther Blanchard as an associate on that
eventful day, and of his fifing march. He named
one of his sons Luther Blanchard in memory of the
martyr fifer. As the first blood shed on the 19lh at
Concord antedated the fall of Davis, in the person
of Luther Blanchard, there ought to be a tablet,
somewhere, memorizing the fact.
The James Hay ward House. — The house in
West Acton, formerly the residence of Hon. Stevens
Hayward and in later years known as the Leland
Place, now occupied by Mr. Kraetzer. Mr. Wood-
bury, in his legislative speech, thus relates the cir-
cumstances of James Hayward's fall on the 19th of
April, 1775 :
''At Fiske's Hill, in Lexington, they had, as some,
thought, the severest encounter of all the way. The
road ran around the eastern base of a steep, thick-
wooded hill. James Hayward, who had been active
and foremost all the way, after the British had passed
on, came down from the hill and was aimiug for a
well of water — the same well is still to be seen at the
two-story Dutch-roofed red house on the right from
Concord to Lexington, not two miles from the old
meeting-house. As he passed by the eud of that
house he spied a British soldier, still lingering behind
the main body, plundering. The Briton also saw
him and ran to the front door to cut him off.
Lifting up his loaded musket he exclaims, ' You are
a dead man.' Hayward immediately said, ' So are
you.' They both fired and both fell. The Briton
was shot dead, Hayward mortally wouuded, the ball
entering his side through this hole," holding up the
powder-horn, " driving the splinters into his body.
He lived eight hours; retained his reason to the last.
"His venerable father, Deacon Samuel Hayward,
whose house he had left that morning in the bloom
of vigorous manhood, had time to reach Lexington
and comfort him with his conversation by rtading
the Scriptures and prayer. ' Jamts, you are mortally
wounded. You can live but a few hours. Before
' sunrise to-morrow you will nu doubt be a corpse.
POWDER HORN WORN BY JAMES HAYWARD,
AT LEXINGTON, AND THROUGH WHICH HE WAS SHOT AND
KILLED, APRIL 19, 1775.
The town of Lexington has recently erected a Tablet with
the following inscription :
At this well, April 19, 1775, James Hayward, of Acton, met a
British soldier who, raising his gun, said, "You are a dead man." "And
so are you," replied Hayward. Both fired, the soldier was instantly
killed, and Hayward mortally wounded.
Are you sorry that you turned out ? ' ' Father, haud
me my powder-horn and bullet-pouch. I started
with one pound of powder and forty balls, you
see what is left,'— he had used all but two or
three of them, — ' you see what I have been about. I
never did such a forenoon's work befcre. I am not
sorry. Tell mother not to mourn too much (or me,
for I am not sorry I turned out. I die willingly for
my country. She will now, I doubt not, by help of
God, be free. And tell her whom I loved better than
my mother — you know whom I mean — that I am not
sorry. I never shall see her again. May I meet her
" Hay ward had lost, by the cut of an axe, part of
his toes on one foot, and was not liable to military
duty. He 'turned out' that morning as a volunteer
in the strictest sense— as hundreds did. He was one
of the earliest at Davis' house, belonged to the same
school district and born and bred by the side of him,
their fathers being next-door neighbors. He was
twenty-eight years old, one of the most athletic, fine-
looking, well-informed, well-bred young men in town.
He had been a schoolmaster, he knew the crisis, he
knew what he was fighting for and what was to be
gained. He came early to Davis' house and acted
with his company. He was seen to go to grinding on
the grindstone the point of his bayonet there. On
being asked why he did it, ' Because,' said he, ' I ex-
pect, before night, we shall come to a push with them
and I want my bayonet sharp.' ''
A fine stone tablet has been erected by the town of
Lexington opposite the house where Hayward fell, in
honor of the man and the event.
Abner Hosmer House. — Abner Hosmer, a pri-
vate in Davis' company of minute-men; only
twenty-two years old ; unmarried ; the son of Dea.
Jonathan Hosmer, of the Acton Church. A friend
and neighbor of Davis fell dead at the same volley-
shot through the head. He lived where Mr. Gould
now lives, half-way between South and West Villages,
nearly a mile from either.
Mrs. Mehitable Piper (Acton's centenarian). —
She was the daughter of Joseph Barker (2d) and wife
of Silas Piper; born Jan. 24, 1771. She died March
25, 1872, at the age of 101 years and two months.
Her funeral took place at her residence on the 28th.
The house was filled with relatives and friends. After
prayer and touching words of consolation a solemn
funeral procession followed the remains to the church
at the Centre. The house was filled in every part.
Rev. Mr. Hayward, Universalist, and Rev. F. P.
Wood, Orthodox, officiated.
Her existence was contemporaneous with that of
the nation itself. She saw her mother weep in her
father's embrace when he tore himself from the
bosom of his family to take the part of a patriot in
the Concord fight. She was living at the time where
Moses Taylor, Esq., now lives, and went up to the top
of Raspberry Hill, back of Rev. F. P. Wood's present
residence, to see or hear something from Concord.
She had seen every phase of her country's wonderful
growth, and to perpetuate and promote it hail sent
her descendants into the War of 1812 and through
the streets of Baltimore to the terrible War of the Re-
She was the last of the devoted band of Puritans
who had worshiped God in the town at the time when
religious differences were unknown. She was the
relic of other days and the wept of many hearts.
Though older than the nation, she did not live long
enough to make a single enemy, and her friends were
those who at any time had known or seen her. She
was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery by the side of her
Some of her ancestors were remarkable for their
longevity, her father being upwards of ninety-nine
years of age at his death.
She lived eighty years in one spot. She had twelve
children, forty-two grandchildren, seventy great-
grandchildren, and two children of the fifth genera-
tion. Her father stood beside Captain Davis after he
fell, and exclaimed to his comrades, "Boys, don't give
Rev. J. T. Woodbury's Speech.— Who was Cap-
tain Isaac Davis? Who was Abner Hosmer? Who was
James Hayward ? And what was Concord fight ?
What did they fight for, and what did they win ?
These were Massachusetts Province militiamen ; not
in these good, quiet, piping times of peace, but in
1775, at the very dark, gloomy outbreak of the Amer-
Let us turn back to the bloody annals of that
eventful day. Let us see, as well as we can at this
distance of three-quarters of a century, just how mat-
ters and things stood.
General Gage had full possession of this city. The
flag that waved over it was not that of "the old pine-
tree"; nor that one, with that beautiful insignia, over
your head, sir — with the uplifted right hand lettered
over with this most warlike and, to my taste, most
appropriate motto in a wrongful world like this,
" Ense ])etit placidam, sub libertate quietem." No, no !
It was the flag of that hereditary despot, George the
And if there had been no Isaac Davis or other men
of his stamp on the ground in that day, the flag of
the crouching lion, the flag of Queen Victoria — due
successor to that same hated George the Third ; first
the oppressor, and then the unscrupulous murderer
of our fathers ! Yes ; I know what I say — the un-
scrupulous murderer of our fathers — would still wave
over this beautiful city and would now be streaming
in the wind over every American ship in this harbor.
Where, in that case, would have been this Legisla-
ture? Why, sir, it would never have been ; and my
conscientious friend from West Brookfield, instead of
sitting here a good "Free Soil" man, as he is, would
have been called to no such high vocation as making
laws for a free people — for the good old Common-
wealth of Massachusetts; voting for Robert Rantoul,
Jr., or Charles Sumner, or Hon. Mr. Winthrop to
represent us in a body known as the United States
Senate, pronounced the most august, dignified legis-
lative assembly in the civilized world. Oh, no ! Far
otherwise! If permitted to legislate at all, it would
be done under the dictation of Queen Victoria; and
if he made laws it would be with a ring in his nose
to pull him this way and that, or with his head in the
British Lion's mouth — that same lion's mouth which
roared in 1775 — showing his teeth and lashing his
sides at our fathers.
This city was in full possession of the enemy, and
had been for several months. Gen. Gage had con-
verted that house of prayer, the Old South Church —
where we met a few days since, to sit, delighted
auditors, to that unsurpassed election sermon — into a
riding-school, a drilling-place for his cavalry. The
pulpit and all the pews of the lower floor were, with
vandal violence, torn out and tan brought in; and
here the dragoons of King George practiced, on their
prancing war-horses, the sword exercises, with Tory
ladies and gentlemen for spectators in the galleries.
At the 19th of April, 1775, it was not " Ease
petit placidam, sub libertate quietcm." "Sub libertate!"
It would have been, rather, "Sub vili servitio' 1 ' — sub
anything — rather than liberty under the British
Information had been received from most reliable
sources that valuable powder, ball and other munitions
of war were deposited in Concord. Gen. Gage determ-
ined to have them. Concord was a great place in '75.
The Provincial Congress had just suspended its session
there of near two months, adjourning over to the 10th
of May, with Warren for their president, and such men
as old Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Adams
and James Otis as their advisers. Yes, Concord was
the centre of the brave old Middlesex, containing
within it all the early battle-grounds of liberty — Old
North Bridge, Lexington Common and Bunker Hill —
and was for a time the capital of the Province, the
seat of the Government of the Colony of Massachu-
And Concord had within it as true-hearted Whig
patriots as ever breathed. Rev. Mr. Emerson was
called a "high son of liberty." To contend with ty-
rants and stand up against them, resisting unto blood,
fighting for the inalienable rights of the people, was
a part of his holy religion. And he was one of the
most godly men and eloquent ministers in the Col-
ony. He actually felt it to be his duty to God to quit
that most delightful town and village, and that most
affectionate church and people, and enter the Conti-
nental army and serve them as chaplain of a regiment.
What a patient, noble-hearted, truthful, loyal, con-
fiding, affectionate generation of men they were.
And remember, these were the men, exasperated be-
yond all further endurance by the course of a deluded
Parliament and besotted ministry, who flew to arms
on the 19th of April, 1775. These were the men who
then hunted up their powder-horns and bullet-pouches,
! took down their guns from the hooks, and ground up
their bayonets, on that most memorable of all days
in the annals of the old thirteen Colonies — nay, in
the annals of the world — which record the struggles
that noble men have made in all ages to be free !
Yes, to my mind, Mr. Speaker, it is a more glorious
day, a day more full of thrilling incidents and great
steps taken by the people to be free than even the
4th of July, itself, 1776.
Why, sir, the 19th of April, '75, that resistance,
open, unorganized, armed, marshaled resistance at
the old North Bridge- — that marching down in battle
array, at that soul-stirring air, which every soldier in
this house must remember to this day, for the tune is
in fashion yet — I mean " the White Cockade " — was
itself a prior declaration of independence, written out
not with ink upon paper or parchment, but a decla-
ration of independence made by drawn swords, up-
lifted right arms ; fixed bayonets ground sharp, crack-
ing musketry, a declaration written out in the best
blood of this land, at Lexington first, and finally all
the way for eighteen miles from Old North Bridge to
Charlestown Neck, where these panting fugitives
found shelter under the guns of British ships of war
riding at anchor in Mystic River ready to receive
them ; a declaration that put more at hazard, and cost
the men who made it more, after all, of blood and
treasure, than that of 1776.
It cost Davis, Hosmer and Hayward and hundreds
of others, equally brave and worthy, their hearts' blood.
It cost many an aged father and mother their darling
son, many a wife her husband, many a Middlesex
maid her lover.
Oh, what a glorious, but oh, what a bloody day it
was ! That was the day which split in twain the Brit-
ish empire never again to be united. What was the
battle of Waterloo? What question did it settle?
Why, simply who, of several kings, should wear the
crown. Well, I always thought, ever since I read it,
when a boy, that if I had fought on either side it
would have been with Napoleon against the allied
forces. But what is the question to me, or what is the
question to you, or to any of us, or our children after
us, if we are to be ruled over by crowned heads and
hereditary monarchs ? What matters it who they are,
or which one it shall be?
In ancient times three hundred Greeks, under Le-
onidas, stood in the pass of Thermopyhe and for three
successive days beat back and kept at bay five million
Persians, led on by Xerxes, the Great. It was a gal-
lant act, but did it preserve the blood-bought liberties
of Greece? No. In time they were cloven down,
and the land of Demosthenes and Solon marked for
ages by the footsteps of the slave.
We weep over it, but we cannot alter it. But not
so, thank God ! with " Concord fight," and by " Con-
THE BRONZE STATUE WHICH STANDS UPON THE SPOT WHERE
CAPT. ISAAC DAVIS AND PRIVATE ABNER HOSMER
FELL IN THE CONCORD FIGHT.
cord ligbt," I say here, for fear of being misunderstood,
I mean by " Concord " all the transactions of that
I regard them as one great drama, scene first of
which was at Lexington early in the morning, when
old Mrs. Harrington called up her son Jonathan, who
alone, while I speak, survives of all that host on either
side in arms that day. He lives, blessed be God, he
still lives ; I know him well, a trembling, but still
breathing memento of the renowned past ; yet linger-
ing by mercy of God on these " mortal shores," if for
nothing else, to wake up your sleeping sympathies and
induce you, if anything could, to aid in the noble
work of building over the bones of his slaughtered
companions-in-arms, Davis, Hosmer and Hayward,
such a monument as they deserve. Oh, I wish he was
here. I wish he only stood on yonder platform, noble
" Concord fight " broke the ice. " Concord fight,"
the rush from the heights at North Bridge was the
first open marshaled resistance to the King. Our
fathers, cautious men, took there a step that they
could not take back if they would, and would not if
they could. Till they made that attack probably no
British blood had been shed.
If rebels at all, it was only on paper. They had not
levied war. They had not vi et armis attacked their
lawful king. But by that act they passed the Rubicon ;
till then they might retreat with honor ; but after that
it was too late. The sword was drawn and had been
made red in the blood of princes, in the person of their
Attacking Captain Laurie and his detachment at
North Bridge was, in law, attacking King George him-
self. Now they must fight or be eternally disgraced.
And now they did fight in good earnest. They
drew the sword and threw away, as well they might,
the scabbard. Yesterday they humbly petitioned. They
petitioned no longer. ,Oh, what a change from the
19th to the 20th of April. They had been, up to
that day, a grave, God-fearing, loyal, set of men, hon-
oring the king. Now they strike for national inde-
pendence and after a seven-years' war, by the help of
God, they won it. They obtained nationality. It
that day breathed into life ; the Colony gave way to
the State ; that morning Davis and all of them were
British colonists. They became by that day's resist-
ance either rebels doomed to die by the halter, or free,
independent citizens. If the old Pine Tree flag still
waved over them unchanged, they themselves were
changed too, entirely and forever.
Old Middlesex was allowed the privilege of opening
this war; of first baptizing -the land with her blood.
God did well to select old Middlesex, and the loved
and revered centre of old Middlesex, namely, Concord,
as the spot not where this achievement was to be com-
pleted, but where it was to be begun, and well begun ;
where the troops of crowned kings were to meet, not
the troops of the people, but the people themselves,
and be routed and beaten from the field, and what is
more, stay beaten we hope, we doubt not to the end
And let us remember that our fathers, from the first
to the last in that eventful struggle, made most de-
vout appeals to Almighty God. It was so with the
whole Revolutionary War. It was all begun, con-
tinued and ended in God. Every man and every boy
that went from the little mountain town of Acton
with its five hundred souls, went that morning from a
house of prayer. A more prayerful, pious, God-fear-
ing, man-loving people, I have never read or heard of ;
if you have, sir, I should like to know who they are,
and where they live. They were Puritans, Plymouth
Rock Puritans, men who would petition and petition
and petition, most respectfully and most courteously,
and when their petition and petitioners, old Ben.
Franklin and the re9t, were proudly spurned away
from the foot of the throne, petition again ; and do
it again for more than ten long, tedious, years ; but
after all they would fight and fight as never man
fought, and they did so fight.
When such men take up arms let kings and queens
take care of themselves. When you have waked up
such men to resistance unto blood you have waked up
a lion in his den. You may kill them. They are vul-
nerable besides on the heel, but, my word for it, you
never can conquer them.
At old North Bridge, about nine o'clock in the fore-
noon, on the memorable* 19th of April, 1775, King
George's troops met these men and after receiving
their first fire fled, and the flight still continues — the
flight of kings before the people.
Davis' minute-men were ready first and were on
the ground first. They were an elite corps, young
men, volunteers, and give me young men for war.
They must be ready at a moment's warning. They
were soon at Davis' house and gun-shop. Here they
waited till about fifty had arrived. While there some
of them were powdering their hair just as the Greeks
were accustomed to put garlands of flowers on their
heads as they went forth to battle, and they expected
a battle. They were fixing their gun-locks and mak-
ing a few cartridges, but cartridges and cartridge-
boxes were rare in those days. The accoutrements
of the heroes of the Revolution were the powder-horn
and the bullet-pouch, at least of the militia.
And Concord fight, with all its unequaled and un-
eclipsed glory was won, by help of God, by Massachu-
setts militiamen. Some were laughing and joking to
think that they were going to have what they had for
months longed for, a " hit at old Gage." But Davis
was a thoughtful, sedate, serious man, a genuine Puri-
tan like Samuel Adams, and he rebuked them. He
told theni that in his opinion it was "a most eventful
crisis for the colonies ; blood would be spilt, that was
certain ; the crimsoned fountain would be opened,
none could tell when it would close, nor with whose
blood it would overflow. Let every man gird himself
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX
for battle, and not be afraid, for God is on our side.
He bad great hopes that the country would be free,
though lie might not live to see it." The truth was,
and it should come out.
Davis expected to die that day if he went into bat-
tle. He never expected to come back alive to that
And no wonder that after the company started and
had marched out of his lane some twenty rods to the
highway he halted them and went back. He was an
affectionate man. He loved that youthful wife of his
and those four sick children, and he thought to see
them never again and he never did. There was such
a presentiment in his mind. His widow has often
told me all about it and she thought the same her-
self, and no wonder he went back and took one more
last lingering look of them, saying — he seemed to
want to say something, but as he stood on that
threshold where I have often stood and where, in my
mind's eye, I have often seen his manly form, he
could only say, " Take good care of the children,"
the feelings of the father struggling in him and for a
moment almost overcoming the soldier. The ground
of this presentiment was this : A few days before the
fight Mr. Davis and wife had been away from home
of an afternoon. On returning they noticed, as they
entered, a large owl sitting on Davis' gun as it hung
on the hooks — his favorite gun — the very gun he car-
ried to the fight — a beautiful piece for those days —
his own workmanship — the* same he grasped in both
hands when he was shot at the bridge, being just
about to fire himself and which, when stone dead, he
grasped still, his friends having, to get it away, to un-
clinch his stiff fingers.
Sir, however you may view this occurrence or how-
ever I may, it matters not ; I am telling how that
brave man viewed it and his wife and the men of
those times. It was an ill omen — a bad sign. The
sober conclusion was that the first time Davis went
into battle he would lose his life. This was the con-
clusion, and so it turned out. The family could give no
account of the creature and they knew not how it
came in. The hideous bird was not allowed to be
disturbed or frightened away, and there he stayed two
or three days sitting upon that gun.
But mark : with this distinct impression on his
mind did the heart of this Puritan patriarch quail ?
No ; not at all, not at all. He believed in the Puri-
tan's God — the Infinite Spirit sitting on the throne
of the Universe, Proprietor of all, Creator and up-
holder of all, superintending and disposing of all,
that the hairs of his head were all numbered and not
even a sparrow could fall to the ground without his
God's express notice, knowledge and consent. He
took that gun from those hooks with no trembling
hand or wavering heart, and with his trusty sword
hanging by his side he started for North Bridge with
the firm tread of a giant. Death ! Davis did not
fear to die. And he had the magic power, which
some men certainly have. God bestows it upon them
to inspire every one around them with the same feel-
ing. His soldiers to a man would have gone any-
where after such a leader.
After about two miles of hurried march they came
out of the woods only a few rods from Colonel James
Barrett's, in Concord, and halted in the highway,
whether discovered or not (this road came into the
road by Barrett's some twenty rods from Barrett's
house), looking with burning indignation to see Cap-
tain Parsons and his detachment of British troopers
with axes break up the gun-carriages and bring out
hay and wood and burn them in the yard.
They had great thoughts of firing in upon them
then and there to venture. But Davis was a military
man, and his orders were to rendezvous at North
Bridge and he knew very well that taking possession
of North Bridge would cut off all retreat for this de-
tachment of horse and they must be taken prisoners.
In a few minutes more he wheeled his company
into line on the high lands of North Bridge, taking
the extreme left of the line — that line being formed
facing the river, which was his place, as the youngest
commissioned officer present in the regiment — a place
occupied a few days before by him at a regimental
muster of the minute-men.
A council of war was immediately summoned by
Colonel James Barrett and attended on the spot,
made up of commissioned officers and Committees of
Safety. The question was, What shall now be done?
The provincials had been talking for months, nay,
for years, of the wrongs they had borne at the hands
of a cruel motherland. They had passed good paper
resolutions by the dozen. They had fired off their
paper-bullets, but what shall now be done f Enough
had been said. What shall now be done? What a
moment! What a crisis for the destinies of this land
and of all lands, of the rights and liberties of the
human race. Never was a council of war or council
of peace called to meet a more important question,
one on the decision of which more was at stake.
Their council was divided. Some thought it best, at
once, to rush down and take possession of the bridge
and cut off the retreat of Captain Parsons ; others
Here were probably found in battle array over six
hundred troops standing there under arms. Colonel
Smith and Major Pitcairn were in plain sight, with
their red coats on, their cocked-up hats and their
spy-glasses inspecting from the old grave-yard hills
the gathering foe, for they came in from all directions
suddenly, unaccountably, like the gathering of a sum-
mer thunder-cloud. Of course it was admitted on
all hands that they could take possession of the
bridge, but it was to be expected that this skirmish
must bring on a general engagement with the main
body in the town. The Provincials would be in
greater force by twelve o'clock M. than at nine. And
if the whole British Army of eight huudred men
THE ACTON MINUTE-MEN.
MARCHING UNDER THE ARCH AT THE OLD NORTH BRIDGE, CONCORD,
AT THE CENTENNIAL, APRIL 19, 1875.
should take the field against them in their present
number most undoubtedly the men would run — they
never would " stand fire." Their officers thought so :
their officers said so on the spot. They gave it as
their opinion, and it is probable that no attack at
that hour would have been made had it not happened
that, at that moment, the smoke began to rise from
the centre of the town — all in plain sight from these
heights — the smoke of burning houses. And they
said, Shall we stand here like cowards and see Old
Concord burn ?
Colonel Barrett gave consent to make the attack.
Davis came back to his company, drew his sword and
commanded them to advance six paces. He then
faced them to the right, and at his favorite tune of
" The White Cockade " led the column of attack
towards the bridge. By the side of Davis marched
Major Buttrick, of Concord, as brave a man as lived,
and old Colonel Robinson, of Westford. The British
on this began to take up the bridge; the Americans
on this quickened their pace. Immediately the firing
on both sides began. Davis is at once shot dead
through the heart. The ball passed quite through
his body, making a very large wound, perhaps driv-
ing in a button of his coat. His blood gushed out in
one great stream, flying, it is said, more than ten feet,
besprinkling and besmearing his own clothes, these
shoe-buckles and the clothes of Orderly Sergeant
David Forbush and a file leader, Thomas Thorp.
Davis, when hit, as is usual with men when
shot thus through the heart, leaped up his full
length and fell over the causeway on the wet ground,
firmly grasping all the while, with both hands, that
beautiful gun ; and when his weeping comrades came
to take care of his youthful but bloody remains, they,
with difficulty, unclutched those hands now cold and
stiff in death. He was just elevating to his sure eye
this gun. No man was a surer shot. What a bap-
tism of blood did those soldiers then receive ! The
question is now, Do these men deserve this monu-
ment? One that shall speak?
Davis' case is without a parallel and was so con-
sidered by the Legislature and by Congress when
they granted aid to his widow. There never can be
another. There never can be but one man who headed
the first column of attac/: on the King's troops in the
Eerohitionary War. And Isaac Davis was that i/><at.
Others fell, but not exactly as he fell. Give them
the marbie. Vote them the monument, one that
shall speak to all future generations and speak to the
terror of kings and to the encouragement of all who
will be free and who, when the bloody crisis comes
to strike for it, " are not afraid to go."
The Birth-Place of Captain Isaac Davis. —
Captain Isaac Davis was the son of Ezekiel Davis
and Mary Gibson, of Stow. He was born February
23, 1745, at the place in West Acton known as the
Jonathan B. Davis House, where Mr. George Hagar
now lives. He was baptized, June 23, 1745. He
married Hannah Brown, of Acton, October 24, 1704.
She was born in Acton in 174(5. On February 10, 17H5,
he covenanted with the church.
Captain Isaac Davis' House at the Time of
the Concord Fight. — It lies about eighty rods
southwest, from the present site of Deacon W. W.
Davis, at Acton Centre. We pass through the lane
from Deacon Davis', still traveled as a private way,
but at that time the old road ; then go through the
pastures, then strike the avenue leading to the resi-
dence of Mr. Charles Wheeler. His present house
now stands very nearly where Captain Davis' house
stood in 1775.
The two fine elms in front on the opposite side of
the road, if permitted to stand, will help the anti-
quarian to locate the grounds, destined, as the years go
by, more than ever to be the centre of Acton's local
interest. The house in which he lived, has been re-
placed by another and that one repaired and enlarged.
It was for many years the residence cf Nathaniel
Greene Brown, from 1812. It was occupied by Joseph
Brown many years before 1812. It was known for
some time as the Ward Haskell place, who recon-
structed the building in later years, a noted carpenter.
Elias Chaffiu occupied the place in 1812. The origi-
nal house was two story in front, and the back sloped
down to one, the kitchen in the lower part.
An old apple-tree, a few years since, stood seven
rods from Mr. Wheeler's house in his present orchard.
This was the shooting mark of Captain Davis in his
gun practice. The scars made by the bullets had
been healed over, and what seemed like burrs covered
the body of the tree when cut down. Mr. Wheeler now
regrets that the wood of this tree was not at the time
made into small memorial blocks, as keepsakes in
memory of the noted marksman. Such relics are
more in demand now that the days of the newness
have passed, and the oldness has come instead.
This site must ever have a historical value, as the
house of Davis, on the morning of the 19th of April,
1775, where his company gathered, ready for battle,
and where the funeral took place, of the three mar-
tyred soldiers, Mr. Swift officiating, and where the
yeomanry of this surrounding country met on that
epoch day, to join with the widow and the breaved
public in solemn rites of burial. The antique flat
stepping-stone at the ell door of Mr. Wheeler's house
is the same trodden by Captain Davis and family,
and consecrated by the remembrances of that funeral
Captain Isaac Davis' Widow and Family
Record and later Residence. — The children of
Isaac and Hannah (Brown) Davis were: Isaac, born
in 1765, a bachelor. He gave his father's sword to
Concord. Another son whose name is not known.
Hannah, born in 1768, and married Amos Noyes in
1793. She had a daughter, Harriet, who married Mr.
Simon Davis, the father of Harriet and Simon Davis.
Amos Noyes was the grandfather of Lucian Ephraim >
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
born in 1773, settled in Maine. Mary, born in 1774,
married Noab Fitch in 1796.
The widow married for second husband Mr. Samuel
Jones, a man of property, July 30, 1782. She had by
Mr. Jones, Samuel and Eliza. Samuel was a lawyer
and built the house adjoining the monument house,
one story, where he had a law-office.
The building was built upon the stumps of the trees,
without a cellar. These old stumps were found years
afterwards when digging the cellar. This house was
afterwards more recently raised to two stories by
Samuel also built the house owned and occupied
now by Mr. John E. Cutter, and the house now owned
and occupied by Rev. F. P. Wood, and where for a
time Mr. Jones himself lived.
Elijah married a Mr. Waite, and lived in Groton,
Massachusetts, and afterwards moved to Albany,
New York. She taught school and was highly edu-
cated. She secured on one of her visits to Acton a
fine oil portrait of her mother in later life, which was
much admired and must be a valuable painting if
still preserved as an heirloom.
For her third husband she married a Mr. Francis
Leighton, of Westford, November 21, 1802. After
his decease she lived with her granddaughter, Mrs.
Simon Davis (Harriet Noyes) occupying the house
now owned by Mr. Lucian Noyes, the grandson of
There she was living when Rev. Mr. Woodbury
called upon her in company with his brother Levi.
When asked by Mr. Levi how she managed to live so
long, she replied, " I have always lived on the best I
She was a good-sized woman, well developed, and
with marked features. She is well remembered by
many still living in Acton.
Mr. Woodbury, in his legislative speech, thus refers
to her: " These buckles were given to me by Davis'
widow, when ninety years old, under very affecting
circumstances. I had rendered her aid, in pro-
curing an annuity of fifty dollars from the Common-
wealth, and that being insufficient, two hundred
dollars more from the United States. Before these
grants she had nearly come to want. The money
arrived. We were all delighted at the success almost
unexpected, for advocating which before the House
of Representatives I am under greater obligations to
my eloquent friend on my right (General Caleb Gush-
ing), then a member of the House, than to any other
man, and to Honorable Daniel Webster in the
United States Senate, for which, with all his recent
sins on his head, I must love him as long as I live.
He never employed his gigantic mind in a nobler
On receiving the money, " Take your pay, Mr.
Woodbury," said the old lady.
"I am fully paid already," I said ; " but, if you have
any Revolutionary relic of your husband. Captain
Davis, if nothing more than a button, I should like it
right well. She took her cane and hobbled along to
her old chest and drew out these shoe-buckles.
" There," said she, " I have lost everything else
that belonged to him. These I had preserved for his
children, but if you will accept them they are yours."
Precious relics! seventy-five years ago bathed in
the heart's blood of one who, in the name of God and
oppressed humanity, headed the column of the first
successful attack in modern times of people re-
sisting kings, of ruled against rulers, of oppressed
against oppressors. Yes, the very first in these years
of the world, but by the grace of God, who has de-
clared himself the God of the oppressed, not the last !
no, by no means. When I have done with them I
will hand them over to my children as worth their
weight in gold. By these buckles I would swear
my son, as Hamilcar, that noble African prince,
swore his son Hannibal, " never to give up to Rome."
I say, by these shoe-buckles, would I swear my son
to be faithful unto death, as Davis was in the cause of
human liberty, and the just rights of man. Handle
them, sir ! handle them ! How at the touch of these,
patriotism, like electricity, will thrill through your
"And one was safe and asleep in his bed,
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball."
Revolutionary War. — January 20, 1776, Mid-
dlesex County was ordered to raise a regiment of 571.
Acton's quota was thirteen.
A new organization of militia was made in Febru-
ary, 1776, and Acton was assigned to the Third Regi-
ment, Francis Faulkner, of Acton, being made
Lieutenant-colonel. The officers of the Acton com-
pany were Simon Hunt, captain; John Heald, Jr.,
first lieutenant ; Benjamin Brabrook, second lieuten-
ant. A regiment raised inSeptember,1776,commanded
by Eleazer Brooks, of Lincoln, was in the battle of
White Plains. Rev. Moses Adams, of Acton, was
chaplain. The Acton company was in the engage-
ment, Thomas Darby being killed. The regiment be-
Of a company of eighty-nine men at Dorchester, in
the fall of 1776, Acton furnished five.
Thirteen Acton men were of the 670 Middlesex men
in the three months' New York Campaign, beginning
in November, 1776.
A company sent to Rhode Island in the summer of
1777 had for its first lieutenant Daniel Davis, of
Acton. In October, same year, a volunteer company
of sixty-three men from Acton and Concord left Con-
cord for Saratoga, arriving there on the 10th and en-
camping two days. On the 13th they went to Fort
Edward. On the 14th and 15th they wenton a scout,
and on the 16th brought in fifty-three Indians, several
Tories and some women. They returned to Saratoga
on the 16th, and had the pleasure to see the whole of
Burgoyne's army " parade their arms," and march out
WIFE OF CAPTAIN ISAAC DAVIS.
of our lines. They guarded the prisoners to Cam-
bridge. Captain Simon Hunt, of Acton, commanded
the company that was of the guard at Cambridge,
November 28, 1777.
Acton furnished five men for the army April 20,
1779; four more between April and June; eleven,
September 1st; eleven June 5, 1780; ten December
2d ; and eight June 15, 1781.
List of the Men of Acton in the War of the Revolution.
Isaac Davis ; Capt. Davis liveil on the Ward Haskell farm, about one
mile west of the meeting-house. John Hayward, Lieut., grandfather
Co Ebenezer Hayward, lived on the Swift Fletcher place. John Ileald,
Ensign, entered the Continental army and rose to be Captain ; lived on
John Nickles' place, and after the war kept tavern on the Westford
and Concord road, under tlio great elms, where John Ileald died a few
years since, and where his son William now resides. His daughter
Lydia gave me a letter of Ensign John, dated at Ticonderoga, March 20,
1776, for his wife, directed to Lieut. John Heald, his father, who was
out also in the Revolutionary war. Joseph Piper, clerk, uncle to our
Silas Piper ; David Forbush, Orderly Sergeant, died 181)3, aged 85, uncle to
Captain Forbush, covered with David's blood when shot ; Oliver Em-
erson, Sergeant, died in 1818, aged 43 years ; George Mayfield, Sergeant ;
Seth Brooks, Sergeant, grandfather of Esquire Nathan Brooks ; Luther
Blanchard, lifer ; Francis Baker, drummer ; Joseph Braker 2d ; Ephraim
Billings, out in most of the war ; Oliver Brown ; Joseph Chaffin, out in
most of the war ; Exekiel Davis, brother to Captain Isaac ; David Davis ;
Elijah Davis; John Davis, Mr. Luther Conant's uncle; Reuben Davis,
at the taking of Burgoyue ; Jacob Gilbert ; Dea. Benjamin Hayward,
out in most of the war, brother of James; Abner Hosmer, killed;
James Law, Reuben Law, Joseph Locke, Philip Piper; Joseph Reed,
out in most of the war, our William R.'s father ; Stephen Shepherd, out
ill most of the war ; Solomon Smith, at the taking of Burgoyue ; Jona-
than Stratton; William Thomas, a school teacher, well informed;
Thomas Thorp, Ord. Sergeant several years in the Continental army,
and was during all the war ; died, 9G yiars old, at Acton ; Jonas Hunt,
he was Frances Tuttle's uncle; Abraham Young; Stephen Hosmer,
brother to Abner, who was killed ; total of Capt. Davis's company,
Joseph Harris (alive in 1851, 81 years old) said the true number was 38 ;
James Hayward, an exempt, acted with them as volunteer ; A. F.
Adams, John Adams ; Benjamin Brabrook, deacon ; Joseph Brabrook ;
Joseph Barker 1st, our Joseph's grandfather ; Samuel Barker, John
Barker, William Barker ; David Barker, died at Ticonderoga in 1770 ;
James Billings ; Jonathan Billings, died 1824, at the age of 85; Joseph
Brooks, Daniel Brooks, Silas Brooks, Paul Brooks, George F. Brooks,
Elias Barrow, David Brooks ; Joseph Brown, Captain during the war,
fought at Bunker Hill and Saratoga, and received a ball at Bunker Hill,
which lodged in his body and was afterwards skillfully extracted and
Brown shot it back at Saratoga ; Stephen Chaffin ; Elias Chaffiu, died in
1832, aged 77 ; David Chaffin, Simon Chaffin, John Chaffin ; Francis
Chaffiu, alarmed Joseph Reed, went into Continental army aud died of
small-pox; Robert Chattin, Esq., Robert's father, died 1828, aged 76;
John Cole, William Cutting, Silas Conant, Josiah Davis (Isaac's brother),
Stephen Davis, Jonas Davis, James Davis, Ephraim Davis, A. C. Davis,
Samuel Davis, Amos Davis ; Dauiel Davis, Captain, and father to Eben-
ezer, was at the taking of Burgoyue ; Flint Davis ; John Dexter, brother
to Timothy ; Ephraim Dudley ; Thomas Derby, killed in battle ; Col.
John Edwards, Nathauiel Edwards, John Faulkuer, A. Faulkner, Na-
thaniel Faulkner; Col. Francis Faulkner, at the taking of Bnrgoyne,
and was Col., grandfather to Col. Wiuthrop E. Faulkner ; James Faulk-
ner, Ephraim Forbush, Samuel Fitch; James Fletcher, father to Dea.
John Fletcher, took part in the Concord fight at sixteen years of age, as
a voluuteer in Davis's company, afterwards enlisted and served through
the war, and died, from the fall of a tree, at 53, without pay and before
pensions ; Peter Fletchor, Jonas Fletcher, Col. Joseph Fletcher, Daniel
Henry Flint, Samuel Fitch, Jude Gilbert; Titus Hayward, colored man,
hired by Simon Tuttle ; Simon Hayward ; Dea. Samuel Hayward, father
of Jonas; James Hayward, killed, acted as volunteer in Davis' com*
pany ; Samuel Hayward, Jr., Josiah Hayward, sons of Samuel ; Stephen
Hayward, father of Hon. Steven Hayward ; Ephraim Hapgood, father
of Nathaniel ; John Hapgood, John Hapgood, Jr. ; Jonathan Hosmer,
Esq., Simon's father, died in the army ; Abraham Bapgood, father of
James ; Col. John Heald, father of John H. ; Ephraim Hosmer; Sam-
uel Hosmer, father of Dea. Silas Hosmer ; Simon Huut, Lieut., com-
manding West Company of common militia from Acton, Capt. Faulkuer
having been promoted to be Major; lived ou Bright place ; Captain in
the war ; a good officer ; Jonas Hunt ; John Hunt, his brother, on Coffin
place; Paul Hunt, son of Simon; Nathan Hunt, son of Capt. Simon ;
Simon Hunt, Jr., son of Capt. Simon; Oliver Houghton, Jonas Heald,
Israel Heald, Titus Law, Thomas Law, Stephen Law, Stephen Law, Jr.,
John Litchfield, John Lampson ; Aaron Jones, father to Capt. Abel ;
Oliver Jones, Samuel Jones, Jonas Munroe, Nathan Marsh, Thomas
Noyes (Lieut.), Josiah Noyes, John Oliver, Abel Proctor; Samuel Piper,
at Ticonderoga in 1770; Samuel Parlin, Asa Parlin, Esq., Nathan Parlin,
Josiah Parker, Jonas Parker, John Prescott; Benj. Prescott, Jos.Robbins,
Captain of East Company, lived near old graveyard ; Joseph Bobbins 2d,
also Captain ; George Bobbins, John Robbing, John Robbing, Jr., Jona-
than Robbins, Philip Robbins, Robert Robbins, Ephraim Robbing,
James Russell (Captain in the French War), Amos Russell, Moses
Richardson, Jonas Shepherd, James Shurland ; Samuel Temple, served
during tho war, a very good soldier, died 1826, aged 74 ; Samuel Tuttle ;
Simon Tuttle, Esq., Francis' grandfather; Eleazer Sawtell ; Edward
Wetherbee, Edward's father, gave the alarm up to Simon Tuttle's road
to Littleton ; was at the taking of Bnrgoyne; Oliver Wetherbee, Ammi
Wetherbee, Roger Wheeler, Thomas Wheeler, Sampson Wheeler, Ezra
Wheeler, Hezekiah Wheeler, John Proctor Wheeler, Oliver Wheeler,
Timothy Wheeler, Samuel Wheeler, Jude Wheeler, John Wheeler,
Daniel White, Mark White, Ebenezer White, Moses Woods, Abraham
Young, Samuel Wright, John Willey, Lemuel Whitney, Nehemiah
The list is, no doubt, incomplete. Probably forty or fifty more names
ought to be added; here are one hundred and eighty-one.
James T. Woodbury.
Supplies were furnished for the army as needed
and called for.
Revolution Items. — Samuel Hosmer, father of Dea-
con Silas, was in the Eevolution. He went down to
Rhode Island, lived upon horse flesh and berries.
He was a born fisherman.
Ezekiel Davis, a soldier of the Revolution, brother
of Captain Isaac Davis, in his company. Wounded
in the hat at the Concord fight. Died February
15, 1820, aged sixty-eight.
John Cole, captain in Colonel Robinson's regiment ;
served in Rhode Island from July, 1777, to January
Simon Hunt, captain in Third Regiment Militia.
Benjamin Brabrook, second lieutenant ; died Jan-
uary 14, 1827, eighty-five years, six months.
Thomas B. Darby, killed at battle of White Plains,
Fifteen Acton men were in that battle.
East Acton Company : Captain, Joseph Robbins;
Israel Heald, first lieutenant ; Robert Chaffin, second
Littleton, February 19, 1776. — Jonathan Fletcher
was a minute-man at Lexington, April 19, 1775. He
enlisted in Captain Abijah Wyman's company, Wil-
liam Prescott's regiment. He was at the battle of
Bunker Hill, at which Colonel Prescott's regiment suf-
fered such severe loss of life. At the siege of Boston,
on Winter Hill, January, 1776, as fifer from Acton.
He was lieutenant and captain until the close of the
war — five years. Eighteen years old when enlisted.
Son of Major Daniel.
Colonel Francis Faulkner and Captain Simon Hunt
were in the battle of White Plains, Colonel Eleazer
Brooks' regiment; behaved finely on this occasion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Address. — At the second
centennial anniversary of the incorporation of*the
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
town of Concord, September 12, 1835, ten of the sur-
viving veterans who were in arms at the Bridge on
the 19th of April, 1775, honored the festival with
their presence ; four of the ten were from Acton —
Thomas Thorp, Solomon Smith, John Oliver, Aaron
Jones. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the orator of that
day, thus speaks of these men :
" The presence of these aged men, who were in
arms on that day, seems to bring us nearer to it. The
benignant Providence which has prolonged their
lives to this hour, gratifies the strong curiosity of the
new generation. The Pilgrims are gone ; but we
see what manner of persons they were who stood in
the worst perils of the Revolution. We hold by the
hand the last of the invincible men of old, and con-
firm from living lips the sealed records of time. And
you, my fathers, whom God and the history of your
country have ennobled, may well bear a chief part
in keeping this peaceful birthday of our town. You
are indeed extraordinary heroes. If ever men in
arms had a spotless cause, you had. You have fought
a good fight. And having quit you like men in the
battle, you have quit yourselves like men in your vir-
tuous families, in your corn-fields, and in society.
" We will not hide your honorable gray hairs under
perishing laurel leaves, but the eye of affection and
veneration follows you. You are set apart, and for-
ever, for the esteem and gratitude of the human race.
To you belongs a better badge than stars and ribbons.
This prospering country is your ornament, and this
expanding nation is multiplying your praise with
millions of tongues."
The French and Indian War. — Acton has pre-
served its record as a gunpowder settlement from the
start. Before its separate organization as a town,
during the Colonial period, there are proofs which
show its preparations for self-defence, in case of at-
tack from the Indians or any other foes. After that
date the town records show the same. March 21, 1744,
the town voted to procure powder and bullets as a
town stock. At a later date the town voted to re-
plenish the stock of ammunition.
The town had an important part in " the French
and Indian War," 1750-63.
There is a tradition that Captain Gershom Davis
led out a company from Acton in 1759, and that
Captain J. Robbins led another company four years
later near the close of the war.
Major Daniel Fletcher was born within the present
territorial limits of Acton, October 18, 1718. He was
a lieutenant in Captain David Melvin's company from
March to September in 1747, and was stationed at
Northfield. He was a captain of a company of foot
in his Majesty's Service, in a regiment raised by the
Province of Massachusetts Bay for the reduction of
Canada, whereof Kbenezer Nichols, Esq., was colonel,
in which expedition he was wounded and taken pris-
oner. Enlisted as captain March 13, 1758, to No-
vember 28, 1858. He was captain in Colonel F rye's
regiment, and in the service in the Province of Nova
Scotia, after the 1st of January, 1760, and at the time
of their discharge.
In 1768 he was a member of the House of Repre-
sentatives of His Majesty's Province of the Massa-
chusetts Bay in New England. On June 26,
1776, he was elected by ballot by the Massachusetts
Assembly, major for the Third Battalion destined to
Canada. He died in the fifty-ninth year of his age.
See his epitaph in the record of Woodlawn Cemetery.
He had nine children, all born in Acton, — Daniel,
Charles (died young), Peter, Sarah, Ruth, Joseph,
Charles, Jonathan. His oldest son, Daniel, married
Ann Bacon, of Acton, September 11, 1760. They had
one child, Ann, born November 12, 1769, married May
27, 1788, to James Law. Peter married Martha
Farrar, of Acton, and they had several children. Ruth
married Joseph Barker, and they had several children.
Joseph married Abigail Bacon, of Lincoln, Massachu-
The Second Meeting-House. — The town had
much difficulty in locating this house. At one time
they voted to build at the junction of the road lead-
ing from West Acton with the road leading from En-
sign Josiah Noyes to Moses Richardson, near a flat
rock at that point, supposed to be the one lying east
of the Puddle hole, on Joseph Reed's land, and west
of Francis Barker's, now occupied by Mr. Maurice
This vote was afterwards reconsidered, and they
finally left it to a committee to decide, consisting of
Joseph B. Varnum, of Dracut, John Whitney, of
Lancaster, and Walter McFarland, of Hopkington.
The committee decided that the house ought to stand
upon the site now occupied by the present town-
Their report was accepted by a vote of 73 to 59.
After the house was located it was thought best to
have it face a Common, and for this purpose the fol-
lowing purchases of land were made: Of Deacon
Joseph Brabrook, 25 rods at $200 per acre, $31.40; of
John White, a little over an acre, Mr. White to re-
move his house and fruit trees, $460; of Paul Brooks,
one-half acre and 27 rods, $80.40. In addition to
these the following gifts of land were made to the
town : By James Fletcher, father of Deacon John,
9 rods ; Samuel and James Jones, 1 acre and 27 rods.
The town seems to have been especially indebted to
him for its Common. He was a prominent man at
that time and represented the town in the General
Court that year, and he was doubtless a moving spirit
in the matter. He was a lawyer, and had an office
in the north end of the house lately occupied by A.
L. Noyes, of the Monument House. He built and
resided in the house now the home of Rev. F. P.
Wood. He constructed a turnpike over the hill by
his house upon the elevation of land over which it
passed, but he became financially embarrassed and
left for New Orleans to escape imprisonment for debt.
THE SECOND MEETING
In connection with the building of the second
meeting-house was the following vote : — " At a meet-
ing, November 3, 1806, it was propounded whether
the committee shall at the sale of the pews give the
people any spirituous liquors at the expense of the
town — passed in the negative." This prohibition
idea seems to be no new notion in the histoiy of the
"September 4, 1812.
"iToknow if the town will provide any refreshments for the companies
in this town on muster day, and pass any vote or votes the town may
think proper upon the above article.
11 Voted to provide some refreshments for the companies on muster day.
"Voted to raise forty-six dollars.
"Voted to choose a com. to provide the following: 200 w. beef; 50 P.
0. cheese ; li bushel of meal made into bread ; 2 D. O. pottatoes ; 200
pickles; 10 gallons of W.I. Bum."
This muster was to be on Acton Common, Septem-
ber 1, 1806. The town voted to choose a committee
of five persons to make a draft of such a meeting-
house as they shall think proper for the accommoda-
tion of the inhabitants, and report to the town at that
next meeting. Voted to choose said committee by
ballot. The following persons were elected for the
purpose : Aaron Jones, David Barnard, Winthrop
Faulkner, Phineas Wheeler, Captain David Davis.
The dimensions of the building subsequently reported
by this committee were fifty -seven feet long and fifty-
five wide, with a projection of fifteen feet in front.
Voted, to accept and build the meeting-house as re-
ported. Voted, to build the year ensuing and have
said house finished January 1, 1808. Voted, that the
committee who drafted the plan be the committee to
have charge of the building.
It was for the times a generous appropriation, and
the structure was successfully completed and was
universally admired as a model in its design. It had
an elevated tower for the belfry and above the belfry
another ornamental circular story, supported by high
posts, with a circular and graceful roof, rising from
whose centre projected the elevated iron shaft for the
support of the vane.
The internal arrangements were in harmony — a
spacious vestibule, with three doors from the outside
and the same from within ; square pews, with rising
seats ; an elevated pulpit, approached by long, wind-
ing steps on either side ; a gallery, high and ranging
on three sides, curving in front ; a ceiling, high and
The artistic effect from within on the Sabbath,
when the whole town was supposed to be present,
and the great choir joined with the pastor in giving
effect to the service in prayer and song, and all the
congregation stood with reverent mien, was impres-
sive to any one participating. The Sabbath in those
days had an interest, civil, social and religious, be-
yond the ordinary rountine of later dates.
The sacrifices made in constructing this costly
temple intensified the appreciation by the people
of its beauty and its uses. There was timber enough
in this building to construct a good-sized village,
spread lightly around according to modern style. It
was of the best quality and furnished in lavish abund-
The first bell, which was mounted high up in the
tower, cost $570, and when it swung out its peals on
Sabbath morn it was a missive to all the households
in the town. It meant business as well as worship
to get all things in readiness and reach the steps of
the church before the last stroke of the tolling bell.
There must have been at one time at least thirty
horse-sheds ranged in lines in the rear of the build-
ing and giving an impressive outlook to its surround-
ings, especially on the Sabbath and town-meeting
days, when they would all be occupied.
John C. Park, Esq., grandson of Parson Adams,
writes to Hon. John Fletcher from Boston, February
6, 1874, acknowledging the receipt of the Acton Moni-
tor: "Some of the happiest days of my childhood
were spent at Acton, and many pleasant memories
are revived. I must come and see for myself, for I
cannot realize the burning of gas in a village where
I helped my grandmother and aunt to make ' dips.'
Speaking of Hosmer, one of my earliest recollections
is my childish admiration of the great 'H,' a silver-
plated letter on the back of the chaire which brought
Deacon Hosmer to meeting. Do you remember it?
Do you remember how we used to turn up the seats
for prayer in the old church, and the clatter it made
letting them down at the close, and how one naughty
little boy (John C. Park) used to keep his to the
Persons connected with this church so far as ob-
tained: Deacons: Simon Hunt, Benjamin Hay ward,
Josiah Noyes, John Wheeler, John White, Phinehas
Wheeler, Daniel Fletcher Barker, Silas Hosmer,
John White 2d.
Pew-holders (left body pews) : Mrs. Simeon" Hay-
ward, David Barnard, Esq., Stevens Hayward, Esq.,
Deacon John White, Luther Conant.
Right body pews : Simon Hosmer, Esq., Silas
Holden, Levi Waitt, Deacon Benjamin Hayward,
Choristers : Winthrop Faulkner, Silas Jones,
Luther B. Jones, Daniel Jones.
Players on musical instruments : Bass viol, Jona-
than Billing, Abraham B. Handley ; double bass viol,
Eben Davis ; violin, Winthrop E. Faulkner, Henry
Skinner ; clarionet, Elnathan Jones, Samuel Hosmer.
Singers : Polly Davis, Ellen Jones, Lucy J. Jones,
Abigail Jones, Jerusha Brooks, Ann Piper, Captain
Abel Jones, Simon Davis, Seth Davis, Benjamin
Wild, Amasa Wild, Edward Wetherbee, Oliver Weth-
erbee, Jedidiah Tuttle, Rebecca Davis, Susan Davis,
Catharine Wetherbee, Lucinda Wetherbee, Polly
Wetherbee, Susan Piper, Lucinda Piper, Mary Faulk-
ner, Charlotte Faulkner, Catharine Faulkner, Susan
Faulkner, Clarissa Jones, Amasa Davis. Jessie Pierce,
Uriah Foster, Alden Fuller, Jonathan Piper, Dr.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Rev. Mr. Adams, the second minister, enjoyed
the advantages of this spacious and elegant church
during the last eleven years of his pastorate and of
his life ; Rev. Mr. Shedd during the eleven years of
his pastorate. The huilding stood for over fifty years
as an attractive centre for civil and religious uses.
By the decision of the courts the building came into
the possession of the First Parish, and this parish
deeded it to the town June 4, 1859.
In the great fire of November, 1862, which took in
the barn of the hotel and which consumed the hotel,
the tailor's shop building, occupied by Samuel Des-
pean as a tailor-shop and by Daniel Jones as a store,
the shoe factory of John Fletcher & Sons, and
threatened at one time the whole village ; a blazing
shingle was wafted on high across the Common and
struck the highest roof of the church tower, became
fixed and soon ignited the steeple. The people below
stood helpless and appalled, as nothing could be done
to stay the raging flames. The whole building with
all its massive timbers were in one brief hour a heap
of smouldering ashes. This earthly structure went
up as in a chariot of fire and was translated to the
third heavens by the order of Him to whom it was
originally dedicated. The building has gone, but its
memories of pastor and choir and congregation abide.
William D. Tuttle. — The time when the very
first settlements were made on the present territory
of Acton is a matter of some uncertainty. It is evi-
dent from the town records that the town was pretty
well settled over at the date of its incorporation.
People were living in all parts of it at that time.
The Indians had withdrawn to other hunting-grounds,
and had ceased to be a cause of fear or annoyance.
The first public enterprise was the building of a
meeting-house for public worship, being one of the
conditions of the act of incorporation, and the next
was to construct roads by which the people could get
These were little more than bridle-paths cut through
the forest from one homestead to another and con-
necting them all more or less directly with the meet-
ing-house and the mills. That it was the day of
humble beginning and of many privations and hard-
ships we can well believe.
For lack of bridges, streams were crossed at what
were called ford-ways. Forests were to be felled,
houses to be erected, fences to be built, which required
the strong arms of a sturdy race of men. Life was
real and earnest to the men and women of that time.
If their home life was barren of many of the luxuries
and conveniences of modern days, there was in it a
large element of downright sincerity, hearty good
cheer and mutual helpfulness.
The church was then the centre of the social as
well as the religious life of the people. It must have
been an interesting sight to see the people on Sunday
coming up from all parts of the town on horseback or
on foot, for carriages, whether spring or otherwise.
were not yet, to attend divine service at the ancient
It was here that neighborly courtesies were exercised,
mutual acquaintances and friendship formed, many
of which developed in after years into more intimate
relations. The town-meeting — that nursery of states-
men — was also another of the educators of those days.
Four or five times in a year did the inhabitants come
together as a body to discuss their local affairs, to
choose their town officers and to make regulations for
their mutual welfare. If any one had a grievance, if
his taxes pressed too heavily, if his accommodations
in the way of roads were insufficient — whatever
might be the cause of his complaint, here was a trib-
unal of his peers, where he could be heard and where
justice was usually done.
From its first settlement to the present time Acton
has been mainly an agricultural town. The first set-
tlers depended for their livelihood on what they could
get from the soil and from what grew above it. They
had cattle, horses, sheep and hogs, the latter being
permitted for many years to run at large and pick up
their living in the woods.
Their agriculture was a varied one; money was
scarce and hard to get. Everything that could con-
tribute to the support and sustenance of a family was
included in the farmer's course of husbandry. Wool,
flax, Indian corn, rye, oats, beans, turnips, beef, pork
and the products of the dairy were the principal
products raised. Clothing was largely of home man-
ufacture and the noise of the spinning-wheel and
loom was heard in every well-appointed household.
They had plenty of apples, all natural fruit (the
finer varieties being of later introduction), and nearly
all the large farms had a cider-mill, which was kept
busy during the months of October and November in
producing a beverage all too common in those days.
From a census return made in 1790, it appears that
no large number of cattle and horses was kept com-
pared with what is usual at present, and but little
English hay cut; the natural meadows being relied
upon to a great extent for the supply of hay for stock.
Coming down to a later time, to the year 1800, a
period of sixty-five years, we find the town's people
in comparatively easy circumstances. Many had ac-
cumulated a fair estate for those times. More pre-
tentious houses were erected and an era of general
prosperity seems to have dawned.
In 1807 the town built the second meeting-house at
an expense of nearly or quite §10,000, paid for by the
sale of pews and a town tax of $1151, all of which
was accomplished without apparent difficulty.
The manufacture of bellows was carried on exten-
sively by Ebenezer Davis, senior and junior, for many
years in the east part of the town.
A large and well-appointed flour and grain mill
was erected on an ancient mill site by Daniel Weth-
erbee, in 1840, which, under the management of him-
self and son, has continued to the present time.
The pencil manufactory of Henry M. Smith, East
Acton, was built in 1848, by Ebenezer Davis, Esq.,
and has been occupied successively since that time by
Benjamin Davis, sash and blind manufactory ; by
William Schouler, print works; by A. G. Fay as
pencil manufactory, and by its present occupant also
in the manufacture of lead-pencils.
Among the various industries pursued for many
years in the early part of the century, was the coop-
ering business, from fifteen to twenty thousand bar-
rels annually having been manufactured. The little
cooper-shops, so numerous in all parts of the town, in
which many of the inhabitants found employment in
the winter season, is conclusive proof that the busi-
ness was a source of very considerable income.
The indenture of Gill Piper March 25, 1790, copied
from the town papers is here inserted as a specimen of
the times and the business then popular.
The Indenture of Gill Piper.
March 25, 1790.
This indenture witmssetli. That Francis Faulkner, Aaron Jones and
Jonas Heald, Selectmen of the town of Acton, Mass , Middlesex Co.,
put and bind (Jill Piper, a minor, now under the care of the Selectmen
aforesaid, unto Paul Hunt, and Betsey, his wife, to Lame the Cooper's
trade ; after the manner of an apprentice to dwell and serve from the
date hereof until he, the said Gill Piper, shall arrive to the age of 21
years; during all which term the said Gill, his said Master and Mistress
worthily and faithfully shall serve, their secrets keep close, their Lawful
and reasonable commands Readily obey and perform ; damage to his
said Master and Mistress he shall not do, or suffer to be done by others
without informing his said Master or Mistress of the same ; tavern he
shall not frequent ; at cards, dice, or any other unlawful game he shall
not play ; matrimony he shall uot contract, or fornication commit with
any person ; but in all things behave himself as a good and faithful ap-
prentice until his fulfilment of his years or term above mentioned ; and
the said Paul Hunt, for himself and his heirs, do covenant, promise and
agree with the said Francis Faulkner, Aaron Jones, and Jonas Heald,
selectmen of the said town of Acton, and their successors in said trust,
in this manner following, that is to say, that said Paul Hunt will teach
or cause to be taught the said Gill Piper to read and write and cipher
(if capable to learn) by giving him one month's schooling in each of the
first two years of his service and one month in the last two years of his
service, and will find and provide for the same Gill Piper good and suffi-
cient meat, drink, washing and lodging, and also sufficient apparel suit-
able for one of his degree and calling, during the said term, and at the
end of said term to dismiss the said Gill Piper w ith two good suits of
Apparel, one suitable for Sabbath days, the other for working days.
In witness whereof, the parties set their hands and seals to this indent-
ure, the 22d day of March, 1790.
(Signed) Paul Hunt.
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of
Joseph Baker, Jr.,
Job F. Brooks.
Middlesex, ss :
March ye 2.5th, 1790.
The above indenture considered and approved of by
two Justices of Peace.
Gill Piper has not been heard from since so far as
the town records go. We may infer with this start in
life, that he became a worthy citizen. Nothing to
the contrary has come to eye or ear.
Many hop kilns were erected, but in a few years the
prices received were so fluctuating and unsatisfactory
as to deter many from embarking in it and the busi-
ness at length became so unremunerative that their
culture was abandoned altogether.
Centre Village. — Previous to the time of the
building of the second meeting-house there was no
considerable village in the town. There were at that
time a very few dwelling houses in the Centre, proba-
bly not more than a scant half-dozen in all. At this
time there was, beside the first meeting-house, the old
tavern, kept by Daniel Brooks, his widow Caroline
and his son Paul, and afterwards occupied by Nathan-
iel Stearns ; the well-known parsonage built by Moses
Adams, sometimes called the Bullard place; the
house of Benjamin Brabrook, situated a little easterly
from the residence of Edward Tuttle; the house of
John White, blacksmith, a little westerly of the pres-
ent town-house; a cottage-house, where Francis Hos-
mer now lives, and one where Eddie F. Conant resides.
The building of the second meeting-house gave an
impetus to building operations in this village; and
about this time, 1807, the tavern first occupied by
Henry Durant, afterward by Silas Jones, for many
years and others later, was built, as also the house
now occupied by T. F. Noyes ; L. B. Jones' house
now occupied by Rev. F. P. Wood ; one on the site ot
that occupied by William D. Tuttle; one by John
and James Fletcher, lately removed to make room for
the Memorial Library. The house so long occupied
by Stephen Weston, now occupied by John F. Davis,
and the Cyrus Dole house now occupied by J. E.
Cutter and the Edward Tuttle hou*e.
The large mansion west of the town-house, long
the residence of Hon. Stevens Hayward, was built
about this time by Doctor Peter Goodknow. A store
was kept on the site of the library building by James
and John Fletcher, which was burnt. At a later date
the store now occupied by M. E. Taylor, was built
and kept by Joseph W. Tuttle, Francis Tuttle, James
Tuttle, Rufus Holden, Daniel Jones, J. E. Cutter and
many others, almost continuously to the present time.
Samuel Jones, Esq., had a law-office for a short time
where the house of A. L. Noyes stands. Samuel
Jones, Sr., married the widow of Captain Isaac Davis,
and resided on the place now occupied by Rev. F. P.
Wood. To his public spirit we are largely indebted
for Acton's beautiful Common.
In 180G the town bought of Captain Paul Brooks
107 square rods of land at the east end of the Com-
mon, and in 1807, of John White 154 rods, northerly
and westerly of the second meeting-house.
In 1806 Samuel Jones, Esq., in consideration of the
good-will and respect be had for the inhabitants of
Acton, deeded to the town about one and a quarter
acres of land extending along the south side of the
present Common, from near the house of A. L. Noyes
to the house of Luke Smith, to be used as a town-
common. The town also purchased of Joseph Bra-
brook thirty-one rods of land in 1808, on the north-
erly side of the Common, extending from the Robert
Chaffin place to the town-house.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
At this time there were not so many houses where
the thriving villages of West and South Acton now
stand. The latter was universally called Mill Corner,
and had three dwelling-houses within a radius of a
quarter of a mile, the Ammiruhamah Faulkner
House, the tavern and store owned and occupied by
Samuel Jones and his son Captain Aaron, the cot-
tage-house, nestled under the hill owned by Captain
Abel Jones, a son of Aaron ; and the mills consisting
of a saw and grist-mill and a fulling-mill, where cloth
was dressed and fulled. Many now living can re-
member the time when these, with a few out-buildings,
were all that made up the village of Mill Corner.
Where the enterprising village of West Acton now
stands there was less in the way of building and busi-
ness. Bradley Stone built the brick house on the
corner in the centre of the village. He estab-
lished a blacksmith and wheelwright-shop, near
where the house of Yarnum B. Mead now stands, and
carried on the business for some years. He also
built the first store in West Acton, which was first
opened by Sidney and Henry Bull, and afterwards
kept by Burbeck & Tenney.
The building of the Fitchburg Railroad, in 1844,
marks an important era in the history of the town.
Entering the limits of the town at the southeast
corner and passing westerly and northerly through
the south and west parts of the town, a sudden
impetus was given to the growth of these villages,
which has continued ever since.
Before this time a communication with our com-
mercial metropolis, Boston, was slow and difficult. The
country trader's merchandise had to be hauled by
means of ox or horse-teams from the city. Lines of
stage-coaches indeed radiated in all directions from
the city for the conveyanceof passengers, but so much
time was consumed in going and returning by this
conveyance that a stop over night was absolutely
necessary if any business was to be done.
Instead of being whirled rapidly in an hour's time
or less into Boston, and having ample time for the
transaction of business and returning at night with
equal ease and rapidity to our homes, a visit to
Boston before the era of the railroad was something to
be planned as a matter of serious concern. All the
internal commerce between city and country necessi-
tated stage-coaches and teams of every description,
and on all the main lines of road might be seen long
lines of four and eight-horse teams conveying mer-
chandise to and from the city.
As a matter of necessity, taverns and hostelries
were numerous and generally well patronized. Thus
in the east part of Acton, on the road leading from
Boston to Keene, there were no less than four or five
houses of public entertainment. With the advent of
railroads all this changed. The Fitchburg Railroad was
completed to West Acton in the autumn of 1844, and
that village became a distributing point for the deliv-
ery of goods destined for more remote poiuts above.
Two names may be mentioned in connection with
the location of this road through the limits of this
town, — Colonel Winthrop E. Faulkner, of South
Acton, and Bradley Stone, of West Acton.
Public-spirited and powerfully impressed with the
importance of securing the location of the road
through their respective villages, they labored untir-
ingly until this was secured, positively and beyond a
doubt. No personal effort was spared and no obstacle
was suffered to stand in the way. until the coveted
end was gained. Who will- say that their ambition
was not a worthy one, and has not been amptly justi-
The April meeting warrant for 1840 contained this
article : " To see if the town will take measures to
have trees set out on the Common." On this article
the town granted leave to set trees on the Common,
and chose a committee of seven to say where ihey
shall be placed. Francis Tuttle, John Fletcher,
Winthrop E. Faulkner, John White, Nathan Brooks,
Simon Tuttle and Rufus Holden were appointed as
The said trees were to consist of rock maple, button-
wood, elm and white ash. As the result of this ac-
tion of the town, the committee extended a general
invitation to all the inhabitants to bring in suitable
trees for transplanting, of the kinds mentioned, on the
19th of April. As the 19th came on Sunday that
year, the trees were set on the following day under
the direction of the committee. The people responded
nobly, and from all parts of the town the citizens
came into the village on the morning of the 20th
loaded with trees ; nearly all lived and grew well.
Most of the rock maples were set out at a later date,
Our notice of the village of the Centre would be
incomplete without the mention of the name of one
prominent in the business history of the town for
years. John Fletcher, at first a country trader in a
small way, began the manufacture of boots and shoes
in 1815. Finding a ready sale for his goods, he con-
tinued to enlarge his manufacturing facilities until his
boots and shoes were well and creditably known far
and wide. He associated his two sons, John and Ed-
win, with him under the firm-name of John Fletcher
& Sons. The firm did a successful business for many
The Great Fire. — In the evening of Oct. 24,
1862, occurred the greatest fire Acton has ever known.
Beginning at the stable near the hotel, the shoe man-
ufactory of John Fletcher & Sons, the hotel, and
store occupied by Daniel Jones, and finally the town
hall, formerly the meeting-house, built in 1807, all
were in a short time consumed.
The incendiary had done his work but too well, and
had left, as he had threatened, a black mark in the
Centre Village. Looking over the scene of desolation,
it seemed as though the place was doomed to extinc-
' tion. Good friends, however, came to the rescue. In
the November warrant for town-meeting an article
was inserted to see what action the town will take in
regard to building a new town-house. At this meet-
ing it was voted to choose a committee of six persons,
one from each school district, to obtain plans, specifi-
cations and estimates to report at a future meeting.
On Tuesday, the 2d day of December, another meet-
ing was called to hear the report of the committee. At
this meeting it was voted not to build a town-house.
Another meeting was called on the 15th of the same
month. In the warrant was inserted the following :
" To see if the town will build a house suitable for a
town hall and armory for the Davis Guards."
At this meeting it was voted that when the town
build a town-house it be built on the spot where the
old one stood. Also voted to choose a committee of
seven, by ballot, with full powers to build a town-house
with an armory in it suitable for the town within the
next twelve months. This committee consisted of
Daniel Wetherbee, Samuel Hosmer, James Tuttle,
Cyrus Fletcher, David M. Handley, Artemas M.
Rowell and Luther Conact.
This was erected the next year, as also the large
shoe manufactory of John Fletcher and a new hotel
by John E. Cutter. Thus, in a measure, was replaced
Acton's great loss by fire.
Among other noted residents of the village for
many years was Jonas Blodgett, blacksmith and auc-
tioneer. He came to Acton about the year 1830, and
carried on his trade until failing health and eyesight
obliged him to retire.
West Acton. 1 — The brick house on the corner
was built by Bradley Stone. He also built the first
store at the corner in 1837, where Mead Brothers are
now, occupied formerly by Burbeck & Tenney, then
Sidney and Henry Bull.
In 1858 Charles Robinson moved that building to
where it now stands, occupied by George Conant,
bluine manufactory, and built the present store. The
hall now used by Isaac Davis' Grand Army Post was
built by Mr. Robinson for the use of the Universalist
Society, and was used by it for ten years.
The first meat market was opened by John R.
Houghton under the tin-shop of L. M. Holt, and was
occupied by him until he built his present market.
A blacksmith-shop was built by Bradley Stone where
the house of V. B. Mead now stands. When this was
burned he built a new shop near the site of the old
one, and where it now stands, occupied by Samuel A.
Guilford. The shop was run for awhile by Enoch
Hall, who in 1865 transformed a barn standing near
it into the present wheelwright-shop of Herbert F.
The New England Vise Company in 1868 erected a
building for its business which proved unsuccessful.
The Butter and Cheese Factory Company was incor-
porated about 1873, and ran three or four years.
1 Items furnished by A. A. Wymau, Esq.
This venture proved unprofitable, and the building
erected for the company is now occupied by William
H. Lawrence, blacksmith, and Waldo Littlefield, car-
A part of the ground^ now occupied by the refriger-
ator and apple-house of A. & 0. Mead & Co. was a
building put up by the West Acton Steam Mill Com-
pany in 1848, which was burned in 1852, and, as the
business had not been satisfactory, was not rebuilt.
The building for the manufacture of overalls and
clothing was put up by Charles H. Taylor in 1886.
Soon after the railroad was built through West
Acton a tin-shop was built by Henderson Rowell,
who occupied it until his death, in 1860. Since then
it has been carried on by various persons in the same
place, and is now run by Lorenzo M. Holt, who does
a large and increasing business.
About 1858 a shoemaker's-shop was built, and was
occupied by Oliver C. Wyman until his death, in
1885. The business since then has been carried on
by William Mott.
In 1845 Shepley & Davis built a house, which was
occupied by a Mr. Page and called Page's Tavern.
After a few years it was purchased by Adelbert and
Oliver Mead, and reoccupied by them for a dwelling-
house a number of years. Since then it has been oc-
cupied by various tenants.
In 1848 Dr. Reuben Green opened an office. In
1852 he was bought out by Dr. Isaiah Hutchins, who
still occupies the building erected by Dr. Green. In
1848 a post-office was opened in Dr. Green's office, in
which building it remained until Dr. Hutchins, in
1854, resigned, whereupon it was transferred to the
store, where it remained until the Cleveland adminis-
tration, when Hanson Littlefield became postmaster,
and the office was removed to his store. In 1889
Charles B. Stone, the present incumbent, was reap-
pointed, and removed the office to the room specially
built for it.
The grain and grist-mill and cider-mill of E. C.
Parker & Co. was built in 1868, burned in 1869 and
rebuilt in 1870. The cigar-factory of Frank R.
Knowlton was over the store of Hanson Littlefield
until the new factory was built in 1889.
Tubs and Pails. — B. F. Taft began the manufacture
in the building and was succeeded by Samuel Sargent.
Sargent was succeeded by Enoch Hall, who, with his
sons, now carry on the business. The business has
become an important source of thrift. It was started
seventeen years ago and has been steadily increasing.
The lumbering business has been introduced and
enlarged ; wood lots and farms have been bought in
the neighboring towns with reference to the lumber
supply. Tubs, churns and pails are manufactured in
large quantities and sent for market in all directions,
as far as Australia, South America, California and
Europe. Twenty-five men are employed through the
year, with extra help in the winter. Estimated aver-
age sales per year, $50,000.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Mrs. John Hapgood, the mother of Mrs. Nash, a
few weeks before her death, when enjoying unusual
clearness of mind, though over eighty years old, wrote
out carefully these items from her own personal recol-
lections, and the original copj in her handwriting is
now with the town clerk. The statements have since
been corroborated by Deacon Samuel Hosmer, over
eighty-six years old, whose memory is quite clear and
H. A. Gould's Place. — Deacon Jonathan Hosmer
was the first settler on the place that is now owned by
Mr. Gould ; he had four sons — Jonathan, Stephen,
Abner and Jonas. Abner was the one that fell, April
19, 1775, at Concord Bridge, with Captain Davis. I
remember of hearing my aunt Sarah Hosmer, sister
of N. D. Hosmer and wife of Samuel Hosmer, when
she was very young, say that her grandfather went
out to see if he could hear any news on that day, and
when lie returned he groaned when he passed their
■window to go into the front door. What sorrow was
then experienced !
Stephen Hosmer, one of the sons of Deacon Jona-
than Hosmer, settled on the homestead with his
father (at Gould's place). His sons were three —
Stephen, Nathan Davis and Jonathan. Nathan
Davis Hosmer, son of Stephen Hosmer, bought the
place, the homestead, and built the new house which
is now occupied by Mr. Gould.
The old house was pretty large for those days, two
front rooms with entry between, upright back part
with two rooms below. The back chanbers were low
Aaron Hosmer, son of Nathan D. Hosmer, had
made arrangements to keep the place, the homestead,
as his own ; but he died a few months before his
father died. If Aaron Hosirfer had lived, the place
would probably have been in the Hosmer name now,
which would have been the fourth generation.
Jonathan Hosmer, son of Deacon Jonathan Hos-
mer, bought and settled on the place now occupied
by Mr. Neil, the Simon Hosmer place. It is the first
house beyond the Kelley place toward Acton Centre.
He had but one son, Simon Hosmer, Esq. He
bought the place and lived there most of his lifetime.
Afterwards it went into other hands. Francis Tut-
tle owned it at one time.
Noyes & Barker Place. — Ephraim Hosmer owned
the farm that is now occupied by Noyes & Barker.
He was a nephew of Deacon Jonathan Hosmer ; he
had a number of children, but buried two or three by
the dreadful disease of malignant sore throat. My
grandmother, Sarah Davis, wife of Stephen Hosmer,
said that one of the girls told her she was hungry but
she could not swallow — a terrible disease to get into a
family. He had two sons that lived, Joel and Samuel,
father of Deacon Silas Hosmer.
Joel kept the home place, but when the turnpike
was being made, he thought it would be important to
have a hotel or tavern, as it used to be called, and he
built the large house for that purpose now owned by
Joseph Noyes and Joseph Barker; but custom failed,
it did not meet his expectation, and after a few years
the farm had to be sold, a very great disappointment
to him and all of his family.
Frank Knowlton's Place. — Samuel Hosmer, brother
to Joel Hosmer and son of Ephraim Hosmer, bought
the place that Frank Knowlton now owns. He lived
in a small house, but had quite a large barn. He was
the father of Deacon Silas Hosmer, who succeeded his
father on the home farm and built the large two-story
house since remodeled by F. R. Knowlton, who is
the husband of Emma, daughter of Deacon Silas
Handley Place. — Mr. John Tuttle owned that place
in 1800 and was called a very wealthy man. It has
been owned by many different persons since — Jacob
Priest, Reuben Handley.
Isaac Peed's Place. — William Reed was the first
owner of the farm, living there during his lifetime.
Then his son William bought and lived there during
his life. The present owner is his son, Isaac Reed.
Andrew Hapgood's Place. — It was owned by a widow
Brooks. Ephraim Hapgood and Nathaniel Hapgood,,
two brothers, bought it of her, Ephraim keeping the
old house and Nathaniel building a new one just
above it. Ephraim Hapgood and Nathaniel Hapgood
were sons of Ephraim Hapgood.
Ebenezer Smith's Place. — Mr. Smith bought the farm
when he was quite a young man (do not remember
the person); the house was an old one, but they lived
in it a number of years, then built a new one; it was
called nice in those days. After his death Edwin
Parker owned it, living there several years, then sold
it to the present owner, Amasa Knowlton.
Ephraim Hapgood's Farm. — Ephraim Hapgood
thought it would be a good plan to go to Maine and
take up a large tract of land and settle there, as he had
several boys. Accordingly, one summer, he went to^
see about it. The next summer he took two of his
sous and went to Maine, to a place called now Nor-
ridgewock, and worked all summer, intending to take
his family the next year.
When the time came for them to start for home
Ephraim, grandfather of Mrs. Nash, one of the sons,
said he would walk home instead of going by water,
and by that means saved his life, for the vessel was
shipwrecked and the father and son were both drowned.
Ephraim Hapgood gave up all idea of going to
Maine after the death of his father and brother,
bought the home-place, took care of his mother, living
1 there his lifetime. After his decease his two youngest
sons, John and Benjamin Franklin, bought the farm,,
keeping it together several years. Then Benjamin
F. bought out his brother John and lived there until
his death. He was killed at the crossing of the Fitch-
burg Railroad, near Andrew Hapgood. Nathaniel
Hapgood was also killed at the same time. The farm
: was afterwards bought by Cyrus Hapgood. He kept
DEACON SAMUEL HOSMER.
THE ONLY SURVIVING MEMBER OF THE FIRST CHURCH
ORGANIZATION IN ACTON.
it a few years then sold it to a Mr. Prescott. The
house was burned not a great while afterwards. The
land is now owned by individuals — only a small house
upon it, owned by Mr. Blanchard, for the accommo-
dation of hired help.
Simon Blanchard' 's Place. — Abraham Hapgood,
brother of Ephraim Hapgood, and son of the one that
was drowned, bought the place and lived there during
James Hapgood, his only son, bought the place,
keeping it several years, afterwards sold it to Alvin
Raymond. He kept it a few years, then sold it to Mr.
Jonathan Fletcher. After his death Simon Blanchard,
the present owner, bought the place ; married for his
first wife Elizabeth Fletcher, daughter of Mr. Jona-
Mr. Hager's Place. — Elias Chaffin lived on this place
a number of years. The next owner was Jonathan B.
Davis. He kept it a good many years, then sold it to
the present owner, Mr. George Hager.
Leland Place. — It was the home of Captain Stevens
Hayward, the father of Stevens Hayward, Esq. Mr.
Hayward living there during his life, then his son
Stevens owned it many years, afterwards he sold it to
Benjamin Lentell. He lived there several years and
sold it to Mr. Leland.
A. A. Haynes' Place. — It was the home of Deacon
Benjamin Hayward. He had three sons — Moses,
Aaron and Luke. Moses was accidentally shot by his
own son. His home then was the late Cyrus Hay-
ward's place. Aaron Hayward after the death of his
father settled on the homestead, but died when quite
Alden Fuller Place. — Nathaniel Faulkner in the
olden time lived there ; he owned the place ; he had
several sons. Nathaniel kept the home-place and
lived there during his life. His daughter Sarah mar-
ried Alden Fuller. He bought the home-place and
lived there during his life.
Houghton Place. — Oliver Houghton bought that
place, living in a very old house for a long time.
There have been two houses built on that place, the
low one built first. Levi Houghton succeeded his
father and built the new house. Since his death
George H. S. Houghton, a nephew, owns the farm and
is living on it.
Mrs. Hapgoods Place was formerly owned by the
Faulkners. A widow lived here who had three chil-
dren. The son's name was Moses. There must have
been two generations before it went into other hands.
It has been owned by Brown and a Wilson. Daniel
Wetherby bought it afterwards, then John Hapgood
Coffin Place. — Deacon John Hunt owned this farm
for many years, for Mother Hapgood said (Molly Hunt,
daughter of Deacon J. Hunt) when she was very
small she remembered the 19th of April, and looked
out of the window and saw James Hayward walking
along as fast he could, with gun in his hand. He
seemed to be in a great hurry. It was the morning
of the day he was killed in Lexington. Jotham
Hunt, son of Deacon J. Hunt, became owner of the
place, lived there many years, then sold it to Porter
Reed. Afterwards it was owned by George Coffin.
James Hay ward's Place.— Samuel Hosmer, brother
of Deacon Silas Hosmer, built that house, occupying
it several years. Some other families lived there be-
fore Mr. Hayward bought it. There was a Mr. H«y-
ward, the father of Jonas Hayward, who died when
he was a young man. Samuel Hayward owned the
farm that William Reed owned and lived there during
his life. It was the place that Joseph Cole carried on
several years and died there two or three years ago.
James W. Wheeler Place. — The old house that
stood near that elm-tree was owned by Samuel Whee-
ler. His son Nathan succeeded him and still occu-
pied the old house during his life. James W. Whee-
ler, his son, after a few years bought the farm and
built a new house, owned by Octavius Knowlton.
Elisha Cutler Place. — Deacon John Wheeler,
brother of Samuel Wheeler, owned this farm, living
there during his life. Joel Whitcomb owned it awhile.
Simon Hunt was a brother of Deacon John Hunt,
and his home was what was called the Bright Piace,
the next house beyond the late Cyrus Hayward's
place as you go towards Stowe.
A. & 0. W. Mead & Co. — The history of this firm
has such relations to Acton that a brief account of
its record is here given.
O. W. Mead was born in Boxboro' Oct. 19, 1824.
Worked on his father's farm until he was twenty-one
years of age. His education was limited to the dis-
trict school until of age. He afterwards attended
academy in Lunenburg three terms, and taught school
in Lunenburg and Littleton, one term each.
At twenty-three years of age he went into the mar-
keting business with his brother Adelbert, and drove a
horse team to Boston weekly with all kinds of pro-
He moved to West Acton in 1840, and there con-
tinued his business with his brother successfully,
transporting their freight over the Fitchburg Railroad
to Boston. In 1867 his brother Adelbert, Varnum B.
and himself leased store No. 35, on North Market St.,
and carried on the produce business under the name
of A. & 0. W. Mead & Co. Their business has been
varied and extensive to the present time.
Their lumbering interests in New Hampshire and
Maine have been large, in cattle and lands in Iowa,
Minnesota and Territories considerable.
They built in West Acton the first refrigerator for
storing fruit — in this country — which proved very re-
munerative for many years.
The first house has been supplanted by several
larger and more costly buildings.
The firm has expended large sums of money in
West Acton in buildings and otherwise, which has
done much towards the adornment and general pros-
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
perity of the village, and have always taken a lively
interest in the welfare of the town of their adoption.
O. W. Mead was an active director in the American
Powder-Mill for twenty years, has been intrusted with
the settlement of several estates, three years a direc-
tor in the Florida Midland Eailroad, been one of the di-
rectors of the Board of Commerce, is now a director
of the First National Bank of Ayer, one of the trustees
of the North Middlesex Savings Bank, also president
and manager of one of the largest herds of cattle in
the Territory of Wyoming.
The business of this firm extends into millions year-
Their father's name was Nathaniel ; their grand-
father Deacon Oliver Mead. Their mother was Lucy
Taylor, daughter of Capt. Oliver Taylor.
Luke Blanchard — He was born in Boxboro' Jan. 17,
182(5, and lived there until he was twenty-four years
He was the son of Simon, and moved into Acton in
1852. He married Jerusha M. Yose April 8, 1858,
and had the following children : Mary Florence,
born Aug. 8, 1859, died in two years and four months ;
Anna Maria, born Oct. 7, 1862 ; Arthur F., born
Jan. 21, 1864 ; Mary Alice, born Dec. 21, 1867, died
Feb. 2, 1889.
He has been a prosperous businessman, accumulat-
ing successfully through his own exertions. His bus-
iness has been largely marketing and trading. His
property is distributed in several towns, but his chief
local interest has been for several years in West
He is grandson of Calvin Blanchard, who was at
Bunker Hill, and helped build the breastworks pre-
paratory to the fight, and was at the Concord fight
He is the grandnephew of Luther Blanchard, who
was the fifer at the Concord fight — in Capt. Davis'
company — and a brother to Simon, grandson of Calvin.
Historical Map of Acton. 1 — Old road from
Capt. Davis' house to 1st Meeting-House :
Capt. Isaac Davis, 1775 ; Joseph Brown, 1S13 ; Ward S. Haskell, Na-
thaniel G. Brown, 1825 ; Charles H. Wheeler.
Kev. John Swift, 1740 ; Dea. Josiah Noyes, 1780 ; David Barnard.
Esq., 1800 ; Joash Keyes, Eliab Grimes, Jonathan W. Teele, Dea. W.
Captain Phineas Osgood, 1744; Edward Harrington, 1800; Thomas
F. Lawrence, 1872 ; Rev. James T. Woodbury, Capt. Daniel Tuttle.
The old Parsonage:
Josiah Piper, 1735; Rev. Moses Adams, 1819 ; Rev. Marshall Shedd,
1831 ; Isaac Bullard.
The old School-House north of the Parsonage,
The Centre Village.— Edward Tuttle, Joseph W. Tuttle, Charles Tut-
tle, Dea. Joseph Brabrook.
First Store. — Dea. John and James Fletcher, his brother, Rev. James
Fletcher, Memorial Library.
Peter Goodnow, M. D., Hon. Stevens Hayward, Mrs. Elizabeth Blood,
Benjamin Wilde, Jr., Timothy Hartwell, Silas Jones.
» By Horace F. Tuttle.
Store. — Stephen Weston, John F. Davis.
James Jones, Widow Leighton, Dea. John Fletcher, Cyrus Dole,
Henry M. Smith, John E. Cutter.
Samuel Chaffin, Jerusha Noyes, Elizabeth Brooks, T. Frederic Noyes.
Hotel — Lieut. Henry Durant, 1808 ; Silas Jones, 1822 ; Horace Tuttle,
1835 ; Daniel Tuttle, 1840 ; John E. Cutter.
Samuel Jones, Esq., Doctor Abram Young, Simon Davis, Widow Har-
Store — Dea. John and James Fletcher; Shoe Manufactory, John
Fletcher and Sons.
First Meeting-house, 1730 ; School-house, 1771.
Brooks Tavern, Daniel Brooks, 17G2 ; Paul Brooks, James Fletcher,
Jr., Nathaniel Stearns.
James Fletcher, 1704, Dea. John's father, Abel Proctor, Silas Conant.
Jones Turnpike. — Laid out in 1817.
Widow Hannah Leighton, Samuel Jones, Esq., James Conant.
Jonas lilodgett, Frank Hosmer.
Theodore Reed, Horace Tuttle, Dea. William D. Tuttle.
William Reed (3d), Joseph Reed.
The new road through the Centre. Laid out iu
Allen Richardson, 1826; Charles F. Richardson, Ai. Robbing.
The road over the Strawberry Hill, 1735. Bounds
renewed 1803, and road straightened 1807, over the
The road from Littleton line — Nashoba Corner,
called Proctor's Road, 1746 — leading to Cemetery,
and crossing Harvard Turnpike at Daniel McCarthy's,
1735, and on to Joel Conant and so. east Acton.
Cotton Proctor, Peter Fletcher, Oliver Wetherbee, John Grimes.
Jonas Allen, 1762 ; Simon Tuttle, 1762 ; Francis Tuttle, Town of Ac-
Simon Tuttle ; Jr., 1828.
Charles Handley, 1827.
School, 1787, at the crossing leading to Mr. Ham-
mond's, burnt 1795.
Dr. Abraham Skinner, Charles Tuttle.
Woodlawn Cemetery, 1736.
Daniel F. Barker, 1809 ; Dea. Samuel Hosmer, 1839.
Joseph Barker, 1762-1809 ; Lieut. Reubeu Barker, Joseph W. Wheeler.
Abner Wheeler, Capt. Silas Jones, Daniel McCarthy.
Daniel Shepherd, 1735 ; John Cole, 1800 ; Alvin Raymond, Jedidiah
Joseph Cole, 1800; George B. Cole, William Hosmer.
The Stow and Carlisle road, 1735-1803.
Capt. Samuel Davis, 1735 ; John Adams, Jr., 1770; Ebenezer Barker,
1807 ; Jonathan Barker, 1847 ; Cyrus Barker.
S. E. School, 1771 ; Forge, 1766.
County road from Mill Corner to Assabet River and
Faulkner Mills, 1776.
Joseph Dudley, 1793; Reuben Barker, William S. Jones.
Josiah Hayward, 1735 ; Simeon Hayward, 1792 ; Mrs. Mary Skinner
Towards Faulkner's Mills.
Lieut. John Adams, 1750 ; Moses Fletcher, 1826 ; Peter Fletcher,
Lemuel Dole, Frank Pratt.
Dea. Joseph Fletcher, 1735 ; Capt. Daniel Fletcher, 1776 ; Stephen
Shepherd, Benjamin Wilde, 1797-1822; Asa Parker, 1825; Frank D
Reuben Hosmer, 1800 ; Joseph Wilde, 1825 ; William A. Wilde.
Capt. Johu Hayward, 1775 ; John S. Fletcher, Daniel Fletcher.
Benjamin Robbins, 1820; John Fletcher, 1845.
County road leading from Faulkner'* Mills to S. E.
Aminiruhanima Faulkner, before 17:55, Frauds Faulkner, Francis
Faulkner, Jr., Wiuthrop Faulkner, Col. Winthrop E. Faulkner.
Eoad to Maynard, 1847.
Road to Store from Mill Corner, 1736.
Joseph W. Tuttle, Capt. Aaron C. Handley.
Moses Hay ward, Cyrus Hay ward.
Iiavid Forlmsb, 1735 ; David Forbusli, Jr., -1771; Ephraim Forbusli,
Abel Forbusli, Isaiah Reed.
Road to Store from Mill Corner.
John S. Fletcher Cross road.
Cyrus Putnam, 1829.
Simon Hunt, 1731 ; Capt. Simon Hunt, Jr., 1775.
Nathan Robbins, 1736 ; George Robbins, 1775 ; George Robbins, Jr.,
Sumner Blood Cross road.
Tilly Robbins, Jr.
Road from Mill Corner and Stow to Concord
Ezra Wheeler, 1762 ; Lewis Wood, 1828 ; Mrs. C. D. Lothrop.
Samuel Handley, 1807 ; Joseph Brown, 1820; Elijah Brown.
Daniel Brooks, 1776 ; Dea. John Brooks, 1735 ; Jonas Brooks, Esq.,
1776 ; Nathan Wright, Obed Synionds.
Titus Law, 1735 ; Joel Conant, 1823,; John Conaut, H. Hanson.
John and Stephen and Amos Laws, 1735 ; Abel Cole, 1890.
Asae Hosmer, Dea. Samuel Hosmer, Nathaniel Jones, Doctor Warner.
Road from the Laws to Silas Holden's, 1770.
Road from Stow and Concord Road to Harvard
Joel Hosmer, Jonathan Hosmer, Nat. Thurston Law.
Josiah Piper, 1825.
Joseph Piper, 1774 ; Joseph Piper, Jr., Silas Piper, Jonathan Piper,
Road from Harvard Turnpike to Moses Taylor,
Esq.'s, site, 1797.
Road from Moses Taylor, Esq. to Centre, 1774,:
Joseph Barker, 1762 ; Moses Richardson, 1800 ; Silas Taylor, 1822 ;
Moses Taylor, Esq.
John Barker, 1736 ; Thad. Tuttle, 1797.
Road from Mill Corner to the Centre, way to meet-
Store, Samuel Jones, 1735 ; Samuel Jones, Jr., Aaron Jones, 1776 ; El-
Capt. Abel Jones, Abraham H. Jones.
Simon Huut, School, 1771.
William Cutting, 1735 ; William Cutting, Jr., 1808 ; Luther B. Jones,
Cross road to the West road.
Doa. Jonathan Hosmer, 1735 ; Stephen Hosmer, 1765 ; Abner Hosmer,
born 1754 ; Nathan D. Hosmer, 1800 ; Aaron Hosmer, Herman A.
Simon Hosmer, Jr., Reuben L. Reed, John Kelly.
Jonathan Hosmer, 1760 ; Simon Hosmer, Esq., 1800 ; Francis Tuttle,
Esq., Edward O'Neill.
County road aloDg the brook from Mill Corner to
the Stow and Carlisle road, 1847.
Road from Universalist church, Mill Corner to
beyond the Ford Pond brook crossing near Mt. Hope
Cemetery — before 1735.
Jacob Woods, 1735; Oliver Jones, 1771 ; Abraham Conant, Esq., Win-
throp 1". Conant.
Simon Hunt's new house, 1735; John Hunt, 1765; Jotham Hunt,
1826 ; Joseph P. Read, George Collin.
James Faulkner, Aaron Faulkner, 1800 ; Andrew Wilson, 1826 ;
Daniel Wetherbee, John Hapgood.
Mount Hope Cemetery.
County road from Mt. Hope Cemetery to store in
West Acton, 1766.
Farr's road to Meeting in 1735, coming from Stow
to West Acton.
Stephen Farr, 1740; Oliver Houghton, Levi Houghton.
Tiionias Farr's, 1735 ; Nathaniel Faulkner, 1764; Nathaniel Faulkner,
Jr., Nathaniel S. Faulkner, Frank H. Whitcomb.
Capt. Samuel Hayward, 1735 ; James Hayward, born 1750 ; Capt.
Stevens Hayward, Hon. Stevens Hayward, Orlando Leland.
Ezekicl Davis, Capt. Isaac Davis, born 1745; Elias Chaflin, Jonathan
B. Davis, George Hagar.
Capt. Samuel Hayward's way to Meeting, 1735-
Hezekiah Wheeler, 1735 ; Samuel Wheeler, 1775-1797 ; Nathan
Wheeler, James W. Wheeler.
Joseph Wheeler, Dea. John Wheeler, Elisha H. Cutler.
Road laid out 1762— a short line.
William Reed, Joseph Reed.
Road from Store in West Acton to Littleton, 1760.
John Tuttle, 1800 ; Reuben Handley, Jacob Priest.
Timothy Brooks, William Reed, William Reed (2d), Isaac Reed.
David Brooks, 1735 ; Joseph Brooks, 1780; Silas Brooks, Ephraim
Hapgood, 1810 ; Ephraim Hapgood, Jr., Andrew Hapgood.
Nathaniel Hapgood, 1800.
Nathaniel Wheeler, 1762 ; Roger Wheeler, Eben Smith, Edwin Parker.
Abraham Hapgood, 1775 ; James Hapgood, Simon Blauchard.
Cyrus Hapgood, Benjamin F. Hapgood, John Hapgood, Ephraim
Hapgood, Jr., Ephraim Hapgood, 1760.
Nashoba road from West Acton.
Judge Gilbert, 1775 j'James Keyes, Ivory Keyes, 1845 ; Nahum Little-
From Nashoba to the Gravel-pit road, 1753.
John Chaffin, 1762; John Chaflin, Jr., Antoine Bulette, 1829.
Robert Chaflin, 1762 ; Robert Chaflin, Jr., 1829 ; A. Risso.
Lieut. Thomas Noyes, 1753 ; Capt. Joseph Noyes, 1808 ; Thomas J.
Noyes, 1829 ; Alonzo L. Tuttle.
Gravel-pit road — County, 1846.
John Chaffin's road to Meeting in 1753.
James Fletcher, 1791 ; Potter Conant, 1795 ; Paul Conant, Samuel P.
Conaut, 1808 ; Benjamin Robbins, Phineas Harrington, Simon Robbins.
Samuel Parlin, 1776 ; Davis Parlin, Jonathan Parlin, Thomas Ham-
Off from the Harvard turnpike in coming from West
Samuel Hosmer, 1795 ; Dea. Silas Hosmer, 1812; Frank W. Knowl-
The road leading from Stow to Concord before
Dea. Benjamin Hayward, Aaron Hayward, Lowell Wood, Albert A
Captain Daniel White, J. K. Putney.
Dea. John White.
David Lamsou, 1762, in from road.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Joseph Chamberlain, in from road.
John Handley, David Handler.
Joseph Robbins, 1774 ; John Dinsmore Robbiii6, James Keyes, George
Capt. John Handley, 1830; John Rouillard.
Eben Rohbins, Abraham Handler, Henry Loker.
Joseph t'liaftin, 1797 ; Jonathan Wheeler.
Amos Noyee, Luther Davis.
Joel Olirer, Ephraini Olirer.
Mark White (2d), William Stearns, Robert P. Boss, Ephraini Davis.
David Davis, Calvin Hayward, Solomon Smith, Samuel Tuttle, 18U0 ;
William Billings, Henry Brooks.
Aaron Ghaffin, Silas Conant.
Edward Wetherbee, Jonathan Billings, James E. Billings, Otis H.
James Billings. 1775 ; James Hapgoud, Isaiah Perkins.
John Rohbins, 1800 ; Elbridge Rohbins.
Joseph Wooley, 1735.
Joseph Harris, If 35 ; Joseph Harris, Jr., 1735; Daniel Harris.
John Barker, Jr., 1735.
Edward Wetherbee, 177") ; Edward Wetherbee, Jr.
Elbridge J. Robbins.
Road leading from Edward Wetberbee's across the
brook, south of the saw-mill, 1749.
Forge before 1735.
Capt. Joseph Robbins, 1775.
In from the road near the rivulet, south of Joseph
Capt. Thomas Wheeler, 1668.
Nathan Robbins, before 1735.
Road from Daniel Wetherbee's to Silas Holden's
place, on the Harvard Turnpike, 1865.
Samuel Wright, 1751 ; Samuel Wright, Jr., 1812; Silas Holden, 1823;
Pope Si Lyman.
New road over Strawberry Hill.
Solomon Burges, John Whitney.
Mark White, 1735 ; Samuel White, 1756; Simon Hapgood, Benjamin
Road to Concord, from Strawberry Hill, 1735.
Jonathan Cleaveland, 1735.
Reuben Wheeler, 1800 ; William Wheeler.
Col. Nathanial Edwards, 1750 ; John Edwards, Daniel McCarthy.
John Daris, 1735 ; Capt. Samuel Davis, 1763 ; Paul Dudley.
" Branch from Littleton road.
Lieut. Jonathan Billings, 1735 ; Jonathan Billings, 1762 ; Paul Dudley,
1808 ; Calvin Harris.
Ephraini Billings, 1775 ; Darius Billings, Joseph Estabrook.
Old road to Concord, 1735.
Benjamin Brabrook, 1735 ; House built, 1751 ; Benjamin Brabrook,
1770 ; George Brabrook, Hammond Taylor, 1890.
Near Concord line, 1735.
Seth Brooks, 1797 ; Nathan Brooks, Nathan Brooks, Jr., Wilber G.
The old road to Littleton in 1735.
Abram B. Handley.
Capt. Daniel Davis, Ebenezer Davis, Ebenezer Davie, Jr., Amasa
Davis, William Davie.
Ebenezer Davis, William B. Davis.
The road from Acton Centre to Carlisle, 1735-1803.
Amos Handley, 1800.
Jonas Davis, Abel Conant, Luther Conant, Luther Conant, Jr. , Esq.
George W. Tuttle, 1800.
Old road from Acton to Carlisle.
Joseph Chaffin, 1784 ; Jonathan Wheeler.
Thomas Thorp, 1775 ; Nathan Chaffin.
Thomas Wheeler, 1735 ; Nehemiah's Hill.
Jerry Hosmer, 1824.
James Harris, 18.9.
Uriah Foster, Hugh Cash, Ebenezer Wood.
John Harris, 1769 ; John Harris, Jr., 1808 ; George H. Harris, 1889.
Moses Woods, 1800 ; Aaron Woods.
Cyrus Wheeler, 1844.
James Davis, 1800 ; Ebenezer Hayward.
Samuel Wheeler, 1735; Gershom Davis, 1740 ; John Hayward, Jr.,
Daniel Davis' Mill, 1775 ; Lieut. Phineas Wheeler, Francis Robbins.
Elijah Davis, 1776.
Jonathan Davis, 1800.
Old East Cemetery before 1735.
School, Dea. John Heald, 1735 ; Lieut. John Heald, 1702 ; Timothy
Brown, 1800; John Nickles.
John Davis's Mill, 1735, on Charles Turtle's brook.
Daniel White's Mill on the Nagog brook below Abel
Robbin's house, south of Thomas Moore.
The Davis Monument — The citizens of Acton
believing that the name of Captain Isaac Davis, the
first officer who fell in the struggle for independence,
and also the names of his two brave townsmen, Abner
Hosmer and James Hayward — one of whom fell by
his side on the famous 19th of April, 1775, at the
old North Bridge in Concord, and the other in the
pursuit at Lexington on the same day — were deserv-
ing of a better fame than history had usually awarded
them, and a more commanding and enduring struc-
ture than ordinary slabs of slate to tell the story of
their martyrdom and mark the spot where their dust
reposes, passed the following vote at a large town-
meeting holden on the 11th November a.d. 1850 .
" Voted, That the town of Acton erect a monument
over Captain Isaac Davis, Hosmer and Hayward, and
that their remains be taken up and put in some suit-
able place on Acton Common, if the friends of said
Davis, Hosmer and Hayward are willing, and that the
Selectmen and the three ministers in the town be a Com-
mittee to lay out what they shall think proper or pe-
tition Congress and the State Legislature for aid in
erecting said monument."
A petition for this object was presented to the Leg-
islature early in the session by Rev. J. T. Woodbury.
The committee consisted of Ivory Keyes, Luther
Conant, James Tuttle, selectmen; James T. Woodbury,
Robert Stinson, Horace Richardson, ministers, in be-
half of the town.
The joint committee of the Legislature or the Mil-
itia to whom this petition was referred, unanimously
submitted a report in favor of the project. The mat-
ter was fully discussed, and after the eloquent address
and appeal of Mr. Woodbury, the resolve was passed
by a large majority.
Two thousand dollars were appropriated, to be join-
ed by an appropriation of five hundred dollars by the
town of Acton, to be expended under the direction of
the Governor, George S. Boutwell, and a joint com-
mittee of the town.
There was a difference of choice by the committee
as to where on the Common the monument should
stand. The decision was finally left with the Gover-
nor, who decided upon the present site, a spot not
suggested by any one before, but which all agreed
was just the place for it as soon as mentioned by the
Another question decided, was whether it should be
made of rough or hewn granite. "Let it be of God's
own granite," said Mr. Woodbury, " and let it be from
the Acton quarry nearest to the site." Most of the
granite was taken from the hill in the rear of Mr.
Woodbury's residence, less than a mile from the Com-
mon to the north, and given by him for the purpose.
The model finally approved by the committee has
been universally admired for its beauty, simplicity
and impressiveness. It is seventy-five feet high ; the
top is four feet four inches square ; a square shaft,
reaching upward from a finely-proportioned arch on
each side at its base. The base is fifteen feet wide,
and extends eight feet into the earth, and is of good,
split, heavy blocks of granite. Through the centre
of the cap-stone projects upward a wooden flag-staff,
twenty-five feet in length, from the top of which a
flag is kept floating, at the expense of the town, on
all public days of patriotic import.
In a panel on the side facing the main avenue the
inscription reads as follows :
" The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town
of Acton, co-operating to perpetuate the fame of their
glorious deeds of patriotism, have erected this monu-
ment in honor of Capt. Isaac Davis and privates
Abner Hosmer and James Hayward, citizen soldiers
of Acton and Provincial Minute-men, who fell in
Concord Fight, the 19th day of April, a.d. 1775.
" On the morning of that eventful day the Provin-
cial officers held a council of war near the old North
Bridge in Concord : and as they separated, Davis ex-
claimed, 'I haven't a man that is afraid to go!' and
immediately marched his company from the left to
the right of the line, and led in the first organized
attack upon the troops of George III. in that mem-
orable war, which, by the help of God, made the
thirteen colonies independent of Great Britain and
gave political being to the United States of America.
"Acton, April 19, 1851."
The old gravestones, which stood for seventy-five
years to mark the resting-place of the three patriots
in Woodlawn Cemetery, have been laid on the sides
of the mound at the base of the monument. They
are very ancient in appearance, and bear the follow-
ing interesting inscriptions :
" Here lies the body of Mr. Abner Hosmer, who wa6 killed at Con-
cord April 19 lh 1775, in ye defence of ye juBt rights of his country, being
in the twenty-first year of his age."
Hayward 's is even more interesting, containing, in
addition, this poetry :
" This monument may unborn ages tell
How brave young Hay ward like a hero fell,
When fighting for his countries liberty
Was slain, and here his body now doth lye —
He and his foe were by each other slaiu,
His victim's blood with his ye earth did stain.
Upon ye field he was with victory crowned,
And yet must yield his breath upon that ground.
He expressed his hope in God before his death,
After his foe had yielded up his breath.
Oh, may his death a lasting witness lye
Against oppressor's bloody cruelty."
This contains the story of his death. After the
defeat of the British he stopped at a pump to drink,
when a British officer, who came out of the house,
exclaimed, " You're a dead man ! " Both aimed, fired,
and both fell mortally wounded, the officer dying a
few seconds before young Hayward. The powder-
horn worn by Hayward was pierced with the ball,
and is now preserved, having been silver-mounted by
The third stone is that of Captain Davis, which is
headed, "I say unto all, watch!" and then, after a
record of his death, this is added: "Is there not an
appointed time to man upon ye earth? Are not his
days also like the days of an hireling? As the cloud
vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to the grave
shall come up no more. He shall return no more to
his house; neither shall his place know him any
more! Job 7 : 1, 9, 10."
The dedication of this monument was a day to be
remembered by every loyal citizen of the town ; in-
deed, by every one present true to the flag of the
Union. It occurred October 29, 1851. The monu-
ment was surmounted by the stars and stripes, and
from each side of the apex was extended a line of
streamers and flags. Across the principal streets were
also lines of flags, which were tastefully grouped and
arranged by Mr. Yale, of Boston.
The day was cloudy and lowering, but still favor-
able for the ceremonies — no rain falling until they
were all concluded.
The attendance of the citizens of the surrounding
towns was quite large. Five thousand persons were
judged to be present, mostly the hardy and intelligent
yeomanry of Old Middlesex, and their wives and
The ceremonies of the day consisted of a proces-
sion, an oration by His Excellency, Gov. Boutwell,
a poem by Rev. J. Pierpont, of Medford, and a din-
ner, which was succeeded by speeches from several
distinguished gentlemen, among whom were Robert
C. Winthrop, of Boston, Hon. B. Thompson, of
Charlestown, Col. Isaac H. Wright, of Lexington,
and Hon. Charles Hudson, of Lexington. A thou-
sand plates were set for the dinner, under a mammoth
tent, erected by Mr. Yale, of Boston, a few rods to the
north of the monument.
The procession was formed on the Green about
noon. The military escort, which made a fine ap-
pearance, was under command of Col. James Jones,
of the First Artillery, with Major I. S. Keyes and
Adjutant E. C. Wetherbee as staff. The following
companies composed the battalion : The Concord
Artillery, Capt. James B. Wood, accompanied by
Flagg's Boston Brass Band ; the Prescott Guards, of
Pepperell, under command of Alden Lawrence, first
lieutenant; the Sudbury Rifles, Captain Ephraim
Following the escort was the civic procession, under
command of Col. W. E. Faulkner, as chief marshal,
assisted by Ed. W. Harrington, A. L. Hutchinson,
Simon Davis, Henderson Rowell, Henry Brooks,
George G. Parker, A. J. Clough and H. L. Neal,
mounted aids, and Messrs. L. Gilman, Marshall Par-
ker, V. Lintell and Lowell Stearns, on foot to escort
the ladies ; the Governor and aides, consisting of
Colonels Heard, Chapman, Williams and Needham ;
the President of the Massachusetts Senate, invited
guests, the president, vice-presidents and committee
of arrangements of the various towns, composed the
second division. The third division embraced No. 1
Division of the Order of United Americans, and the
"O'Kommakamesit" Fire Company, No. 2, of Marl-
boro'. The fourth and fifth divisions were composed
of citizens from Lexington, Concord, Littleton, Box-
boro', Sudbury, Westford, Stow and Acton. Several
of these towns carried appropriate banners. That
from Lexington was a large, white banner with a red
fringe. On the front was the inscription, "Lexing-
ton, April 19, 1775. 0, what a glorious day for
America ! ' ; On the reverse — " Freedom'a Offering ! "
and the names of Parker and other patriots who fell
in the fight at Lexington.
From the Green the procession proceeded towards
the Old Burying-ground, southeast part of the town,
where the remains of the patriots Davis, Hosmer and
Hayward were deposited, awaiting their removal to
The bones, which were disinterred some days before,
were nearly entire, and were enclosed in an oblong,
black walnut box, highly polished and studded with
silver nails. The remains were enclosed in different
compartments, each marked upon the cover by a
silver plate bearing the name of the old patriots.
The cheek-bone of Hosmer showed the trace of the
ball which caused his death, entering just below the
left eye and coming out at the back of the neck.
The box was placed in a hearse, and under the
escort of the " Davis Guards," First Lieutenant Dan-
iel Jones in command, met the procession at the
junction of the two roads leading to town. Here
both parties halted — the military escort in open
order, and with arms presented awaited the approach
of the sacred remains — the Lowell Band, which ac-
companied them, playing a beautiful dirge, composed
by Kurick. Flagg's Brass Band, which accompanied
the escort, then performed the dirge, " Peace, trou-
bled ; " after which the escort fell into position and
the procession, including the remains, proceeded to
the monument. Eight venerable citizens of Acton,
all of them over seventy years of age, appeared as
pall-bearers. They were : Joseph Harris, Dr. Charles
Tuttle, each eighty-two years old ; Nathan D. Hosmer
(nephew of Abner), eighty ; John Harris, Daniel
Barker and James Keyes, each seventy-six years;
Jonathan Barker, seventy-four; and Lemuel Hil-
dreth, seventy. The hearse was driven by John
Upon arriving at the monument the box contain-
ing the remains was placed upon a stand in the street,
which was covered with a black velvet pall. The
box was opened and an opportunity given to all who
wished to look upon the remains. The box was then
closed and deposited in the monument in the place
designed for it. The procession was then again
formed and proceeded to the tent, under which the
remaining scenes of the day were to take place.
The tent was hung around with streamers festooned
and in the centre was the beautiful flag which had
recently been presented by the ladies of Acton to the
" Davis Guards." The tent was reached about one
o'clock. Rev. J. T. Woodbury, president of the day,
called upon Rev. Mr. Frost, of Concord, to invoke a
blessing on the table and the day. An original hymn
composed by Rev. Henry Durant, of Byfield, a native
of Acton, was sung to the tune of " Hamburg."
The first and sixth of the seven stanzas are here
" 0 God, we give the praise to Thee,
The honor of our nation's birth ;
It was Thy power that made us free —
The power that guides the rolling earth.
As on this pile, beneath those skies,
The peaceful light of heaven shall play,
So the Heroic Past shall rise
And meet the glories of that day."
The oration, poem and speeches then followed,
which were eloquent and stirring with patriotic senti-
ment and fully appreciated by the responsive crowds
The closing words of Governor Boutwell. — "To-day
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town ot
Acton dedicate this monument to the memory of the
early martyrs of the Revolution and consecrate it to
the principles of liberty and patriotism.
"Here its base shall rest and its apex point to the
heavens through the coming centuries. Though it
bears the names of humble men and commemorates
services stern rather than brilliant, it shall be as im-
mortal as American history.
"The ground on which it stands shall be made clas-
sical by the deeds which it commemorates, and may
this monument exist only with the existence of the
republic: and when God, in His wisdom, shall bring
| this government to nought, as all human governments
i must come to nought, may no stone remain to point
the inquirer to fields of valor, or to remind him of
1 deeds of glory.
"And finally may the republic resemble the sun in
his daily circuit, so that none shall know whether its
path were more glorious in the rising or in the set-
Judge Hoar's sentiment (of Concord). — " The mem-
ory of Davis and Hosmer and their brave companions
in arms : The men who fell at the Old North Bridge,
of Concord, and the men who avenged their fall : the
first who received the enemy's fire, and the first officer
who returned it. One in purpose, one in patriotism :
separated by the fortunes of that day — united forever
in the gratitude and admiration of their country-
Rev. Mr. Pierpont, the poet, gave this as his senti-
ment, alluding to the slight interruption by the noise
of knives and forks near the close of his poem, and
saying that, having pitted his tongue against a bul-
lock's, and been most terribly worsted, a speech could
not be expected of him.
" Let Poets learn at dinner to be brief,
Else will their tongues be beaten by tlie beef."
Daniel Webster's sentiment, forwarded from Marsh-
field. — " Isaac Davis : an early grave in the cause of
liberty has secured to him the long and grateful re-
membrance of his country."
The Davis Monument was honored by a visit of the
State Military Camp, of Concord, under the command
of General Benjamin F. Butler, in the fall of 1870.
The noon hour in camp was a scene of bustle in j
preparation for the afternoon march to Acton. While I
dinner was yet in a state of service at division quar-
ters, the drums of the First Brigade were heard in
the far distance to the right and the long line was
marked by its dust, wending its way by a circuitous
route to the review field. In half an hour the other
brigades were on the march and at quarter of two
o'clock five thousand men were in line. The infantry
were on the right and centre, and the whole artillery
and cavalry were massed on the right.
Promptly at two o'clock General Butler, mounted on
a white horse, and with his full staff, took his place
at the head of the division and rode out at the
north corner on the Concord Road. He wore no
plume. The marching column was about a mile and
a quarter in length. The road from Concord to Acton
was largely the same as the Acton troops took in the
Revolution, the division marching in column of fours.
At frequent intervals groups of men, women and
children were gathered to witness the pageant.
The head of the column reached Acton at ten min-
utes after four o'clock. The selectmen, W. W. Davis,
Elbridge J. Robbins, Jr., and Charles Robinson, with
a committee of citizens and ladies, headed by John
Fletcher, Jr., had made ample preparations to wel-
come the troops. Houses were decorated and barrels
upon barrels of lemonade and apples had been got
The monument was elegantly decorated and also
the town hall adjacent. The streets were crowded
with people in holiday attire. W. W. Davis, chair-
main of the Board of Selectmen, addressed General
Butler in an eloquent and earnest manner. The gen-
eral responded : " In behalf of the soldiers of Massa-
chusetts gathered herein your good old town, I thank
you for your earnest welcome and for your offered
hospitality. It seems most pleasant to us to find so
beautiful a resting-place after our long and weary
march. You have referred to the services of tbe
militia in the late war, and you will allow me to say
that the character and conduct of Co. E, of Acton,
evidenced that the spirit of the Revolutionary sires
has not died out of the good town of Acton.
"You have the honor of having erected the third
monument of the War of the Revolution, and of
having suffered among the first in that struggle. You
have earned the right to say that the sons will, by
deed and work, keep green the memories of this his-
toric spot. You and they have made a noble record,
and, as it has been in the past, so may it be in the
" I doubt not that the sight of this monument, and
the thought that we stand on the ground made sacred
by the ashes of heroes, will be of value to the Military
of Massachusetts, in increasing in their bosoms the
holier emotions of patriotism, and inspire them to be
able defenders of the institution for which Davis, and
Hosmer and Hayward fell.
" We rejoice that we are able to be here and thank
you again for the welcome and the bounty with which
you greet us. We propose to close our response by a
salute of thirteen guns, which will be fired by one of
our light batteries, as a further tribute of respect and
affection for the men of Acton living and dead."
The event was a lively one, and a feature of the week
that will long be remembered by those who partici-
pated in it, and by those who witnessed it.
The War of 1812— The War of 1812 was not
popular in this part of the country, but in the begin-
ning of the war several men were enlisted in the
army. In 1814 the military company called the
Davis Blues was ordered into service as a body and
was despatched to Boston to assist in the defence of
that place against a possible attack. Hon. John C.
Park, of Boston, a native of Acton, and a grandson
of Rev. Moses Adams, thus writes, describing the
" 1 well remember the commotion in Acton on the
day when the Blues met to take up their march to
Boston. We boys were wild with excitement, but
when the large doors of the meeting-house were
thrown open and it was understood that the company
would have prayers offered for them, we were so-
bered at once. I thought the prayer was very earn-
est and appropriate, and was indignant when after-
wards, among the gathered knots of men in front of
the porch, I heard some criticising it as being too
much tinctured with the good old minister's anti-war
sentiments. In a few days the fifer returned and
gave glowing accounts of their enthusiastic reception
and the march of the Blues through Boston. It
seems that at every street-corner the men and the
boys would cheer, and the drum and fife were ex-
pected to respond with a triple roll and salute. The
poor fifer was so exhausted with his untiring efforts,
to pipe shrill for the honor of his corps and the town,
that he was taken with spitting of blood and had to
return home. This I believe was the only blood shed
during the campaign."
The enemy kept away from Boston, otherwise the
" Davis Blues " might have patterned after the style of
the Davis minute-men thirty-nine years before at
Concord. John Fletcher, afterwards captain of the
company, was then clerk and went to Boston as clerk.
Silas Jones, the son of Aaron Jones, was the captain.
His company was the first to report at headquarters
(after receiving the orders) of any in the regiment.
Thiee times since the existence of the nation a com-
pany from Acton has been summoned at the outbreak
of war, — the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the
War of the Rebellion — and in each case has been the
first to appear on duty.
A list of Acton Davis Blues who went to South
Boston in the War of 1812, whose names have been
copied from the original-pay roll, in the handwrit-
ing of the clerk of the company, Deacon John
Fletcher, now in possession of Deacon Samuel Hos-
Captain, Silaa Jones, son of Aaron Jones ; 1st Lieutenant, James
Jones ; 2d Lieutenant, Aaron Hay ward ; Ensign, Jonathan Hosmer, Jr.;
Clerk, John Fletcher ; Samuel CoDant, John Heudley, Silas Piper, Jr.,
fifor ; Paul Conant, baas drum ; Abner Wheeler, small drum ; Luke
Hayward, James Fletcher, Jr. (brother to the clerk) ; Jonathan B.
Davis, James Hayward, Josiah H. Adams, Joseph Barker (2d), Jonathan
Billings, Jr., Ephraim Billings, Josiah Bright, Jr., James Conant, Joel
Conant, John Conant, John Chaffin, Joseph T. Chamberlain, Ezekial
Chamberlain, Ebenezer Davis, Luther Davis, John S. Fletcher, Abel
Forbush, Silas Hosmer, Moses Hayward (shot accidentally), Nathaniel
Hapgood, John Harris, James Keyes, George Robbins, Joseph Robbins,
George W. Robbins, John D. Robbins, William Reed (3d), Allen Rich-
ardson, Jonathan Wheeler, Samuel Whitney, Oliver Wetherbee, Nathan
School-Houses. — There was a movement in 1740,
soon after the town was organized, to obtain an appro-
priation for school purposes, but the movement failed.
At a meeting in 1741 the town voted that a reading,
writing and moving school be kept for six months.
This early action in favor of a school on wheels
shows that the idea is not original with the present
In 1743, at aspecial meeting in December, the town
voted £18, old tenor, for a reading and writing school
and to divide the town into three parts.
This division continued until 1751, when the dis-
tricts were increased to six, in 1771 another was add-
ed for a few years.
From 1790-1800 there were five districts, then four
for nearly thirty years, when the present division
into six districts began. When there were only four
districts the inhabitants of the southeast part of the
town received their school money from the town and
united with certain inhabitants of Sudbury and Con-
cord, and had a school in a house which was just
across the Sudbury line. This was called the School
of the Three Friends. At this time the North and
East Districts were one. Previous to the organiza-
tion of the town there were buildings erected for school
purposes at private expense, and the schools kept
according to the circumstances then existing in differ-
The first schoolmasters were mostly residents of
the town. As late as 1771 there were four school-
houses which were private property. The first appro-
priations for schools were very small — not more than
But few studies were taught and the teachers but
poorly paid. The schools were called reading and
writing schools, and none but the simplest rudiments
of knowledge were taught before the present century.
A master in the winter received but little more per
week than a day-laborer, and the teacher of a
"woman's school " but little more than a servant girl.
In 1760 an order was drawn to pay a master fifteen
shillings for keeping school two weeks and a half, and
another drawn for his board for half that sum.
An aged resident of the town said that when she
was a girl the lady teacher had one dollar per week
for her services and her mother received one dollar
per week for boarding her. The grant for schools was
greatly supplemented by donations and subscriptions
by the citizens for private schools.
For several years a private school was supported
in the autumn at the Centre of the town. Rev. Asa
D. Smith, D.D., late president of Dartmouth College,
was one of the teachers of that school.
The town records give the following items: "October
14, 1796, it was voted that there shall be five districts
in this town, and the school-houses shall be built on
the same places that was agreed upon by a former
vote of the town, viz.: One of the said houses to be
built near Mr. John Dexter's Paster bars on the
road leading from the meeting house to Dr. Abraham
" One on the hill West of Jonathan Tower's house.
" One on the crotch of the road West of Samuel
Wheeler's house (where Mr. Cyrus Wheeler's house
now stands nearly).
" One where the school house near Samuel Tuttle's
now stands (in the East District, near Horace Hos-
mer's present residence). The other house to be
built where the school-house now stands near John
" January 21st, 1797. To see if the town will agree
to build a school-house to accommodate the District
where the school-house was consumed by fire.
"To see if the town will agree to form themselves
into a certain number of school districts and provide
each District with a school-house and divide the
school money into so many equal parts."
In 1797 a town-meeting was called "to see if the
town will reconsider all former votes respecting
building school-houses, if any there be on record, and
see if the town would build a school-house in the
district that had the school-house burnt." (This house
that was burnt stood at the turn of the road beyond
Mr. Charles Tuttle's site leading to Mr. Thomas
Hammond, in the south corner).
" Voted to reconsider all former votes respecting dis-
tricts for seven years past. Voted that there be a com-
mittee of five men to fix a place for a school-house in
the North District to which Lieutenant Noyes belongs,
and that Jonas Brooks, John Edwards, Esq., Aaron
Jones, George Robbins and Edward Wetherbee be
"Then voted fifty pounds to build said house and
that said committee build such house as they think
Propper for said District and the best way they can.''
In November, 1798, the committee appointed by
the town reported they had " attended to the service
and soaled four of the oald school-houses, viz.: one
by Mr. John Adams, Jr., one by Oliver Jones, one by
Hezekiah Wheeler's, and one near the meeting-
house. The whole of which was soaled for Eifty-
five dollars and approved notes given to the Town
Treasurer for the same payable within nine months
from the date."
The school-house located and built by this com-
mittee, of which Jonas Brooks was chairman, was the
old red school-hou se which stood for the next forty
years a few rods north of the parsonage, then newly
built, on the same side of the road. The frame of
this school-house is now the substantial part of Mr.
Cyrus Hale's house. It stood on rising ground facing
the east. It was well built, square, with a high desk
in the centre of the west side and rows of double
desks rising on the north and south sides, the highest
row on a level with the windows, styled the back
seats, where the oldest scholars sat. This was the
model for the school-houses built at that time.
It answered the purpose of a grand amphitheatre
for the development of the muscle and brain of
Acton's near future.
Here the Tuttles, Taylors, Joneses, Fletchers,
Hosmers, Conants, Stearnses, Richardsons, Davises,
Parlins, Handleys, Browns gathered for their daily
tilt with themselves, their mates and their masters.
They came in groups from all parts of the district,
ranging out a mile and a half and numbering in some
winter terms nearly a hundred, all grades in charge of
one teacher. The elements which collided and har-
monized in this arena "during a single day, and day
after day, was a miniature picture of Acton's liveliest
The story of this one-school-house would fill a vol-
ume, but we have no space for the romance here, —
" Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way
With blossom'd furze, unprofitably gay,
There in bis noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school ;
A man severe ho was and stern to view —
I knew him well, and every truant knew."
By-ways and Nooks of Acton. 1 — There is a de-
serted farm lying to the southeast of Nagog Pond
which many years ago was the home of a family
named Chamberlain. The house and other buildings
are now gone, but their location may be determined
by the remaining well and cellars.
This place suggests the stanza in one of Miss
Chandler Moulton's poems :
"The cowslips spring in the meadow,
The roses bloom on the hill
And beside the brook in the pasture
The herds go feeding at will."
It exactly answers to all the particulars. If the stanza
had been written especially for this place, it could
not have come nearer to reality.
There is a profusion of cowslips in the meadow, an
abundance of old-fashioned damask roses on the
hill near the well and a pretty brook, and almost al-
ways there are cattle pastured there.
The house, if it was still standing, would add greatly
to the quaintness of the place. It is a quiet nook,
away from all traces of civilization. There is an
abundance of wild fruits in their season, and a rare
place for boating or fishing on Nagog Pond.
In a northerly direction from Strawberry Hill is
where the Indians, once inhabifants of this and the
neighboring towns, used to go to manufacture their
arrow-heads. They would never tell the early settlers
definitely where they went, but would indicate that
direction. Some years ago a hunter's dog while dig-
ging for a rabbit or a fox, cut his paws badly. His
master found he had dug into a great quantity of very
small sharp-edged, flint-like rocks, which, without
doubt, were the remains left by the Indians from mak-
ing their arrow-heads.
Probably the first settlers of South Acton were
Nathan Robbins and wife, who came from East Acton
and located at a site now owned by Mr. James Tuttle
on the road to Stow, called the Bright's House. They
started from their home beyond the cemetery in East
Acton. Mr. Robbins drove the team loaded with the
household goods and the wife took charge of the baby
and also the family pig. In her journey she came to
the big brook, which the pig would not cross. He
seemed to have some premonitions of his fate and
that of his descendants, should he head for that part
of the country, but the woman was as resolute as the
pig. She landed her most precious freight across the
stream first, and then returning, pigged it over all
safe, and at last reached their new home. The story
is that Mrs. Robbins and freight reached the spot
first. At any rate, for some unexplained reason, the
ladies in that part of the town have always been a
The Old Chestnut-Tree. — If you have not seen
that chestnut-tree don't miss the next chance. It is
1 By Bertha H. Hosmer.
one of the original settlers of the town. Its birth
record is not on town-books, but some think it is well
on to two hundred years old. It was in a flourishing
condition when Captain Davis and his company
passed that way in 1775. It was a large tree when
Simon Hapgood, father of Benjamin, was a child.
Thoreau and his sister came up from Concord to
visit it before he died, and he made it twenty-two feet
in circumference then. It is now more than that.
The interior of the tree is hollow. The cavity is cir-
cular, sixty inches in diameter and twenty-five feet in
height, through which one may look and see the sky
beyond. An opening has recently been cut at the
bottom and entrance can be easily made. There are
worse places for a night's lodging. A good crop of
chestnuts is yearly produced by its living branches.
The town should get possession of this luscious tablet
of the bygones and see that no ruthless axe take it
too soon from the eyes of the present generation. If
you wish to find it, go to the residence of Benjamin
Hapgood, on Strawberry Hill, turn in from the road
to the southeast from Mr. Hapgood's barn a few rods
to a piece of woods, and you will easily find the
Geologic Sketch of Acton. 1 — Acton, unlike some
of the neighboring towns, owes the principal part of
its natural scenery to the irregular surface of the rock
strata which form its foundation. The contour,
through the action of the various atmospheric agen-
cies, had nearly reached its present form before the
glacial period, and it was but slightly modified by the
action of the ice during that period. Rising to its
greatest elevation near the centre of the town, the
slope to the northward received the greatest force pro-
duced by the motion of the ice toward the south,
which resulted in grinding down and polishing the
surface of the rock and in making the slope to the
north more gentle, while the slope to the south was
left steep and often ragged.
The rock is a micaceous gneiss, often merging into
mica schist firmly stratified, with a strike north 60°
east, and a very steep dip to the northwest. This
rock is a member of that crystalline series which
forms the oldest portions of the earth's crust. Above
this solid rock is the loose material known generally
as earth — that is, the accumulation of gravel, sand,
clay, loam, etc., which was broughfc to its present
position and deposited by the agency of the ice sheet.
Portions of this material were accumulated under the
ice in a comparative thin layer over nearly the entire
surface of the country. In certain places, however,
it was built up, by a process not yet understood, into
lenticular masses, with their longer axes parallel to
the motion of the ice or nearly north-south. This
gave rise to a prominent feature in our topography,
the class of hills known as drumlins, and of which the
i By George Barton, a native of Acton, and geologic teacher in the
School of Technology, Boston.
hill just west of West Acton Village, the two south of
South Acton, and Strawberry Hill, toward the north-
east part of the town, are typical examples. On 'the
surface of the ice and throughout its mass was a
large amount of earth and rock, which was scattered
over the surface of the country as the ice disappeared.
This being in loose form, and easily acted upon by the
floods produced by the melting of the glacier, was
washed over and separated into distinct areas of sand,
gravel and clay. These washed-over portions natur-
ally accumulated in the lower levels, giving rise to
the sand and gravel plains which extend along the
courses of Nashoba and Fort Pond Brooks, and to the
southeast merge into the larger areas bordering the
Assabet River. Another and very peculiar feature
of the washed-over material is the kame. This was
formed by the small boulders and pebbles accumulat-
ing in the channels of rivers running upon the ice,
and which, upon the disappearance of the ice sheet,
were deposited upon the surface of the country, form-
ing long, narrow, winding ridges of coarse gravel. A
very fine example of this occurs in Acton, extending
from the extreme southeast corner of the town, near
the powder-mills, with occasional gaps by the ceme-
tery near the Centre, and thence nearly parallel to and
just west of Nashoba Brook, nearly to Carlisle line.
The streams which flow through the town still fol-
low generally the valleys formed by them before the
advance of the ice sheet, but in a few cases their
courses have been slightly changed by the accumula-
tions deposited by the glacier. The larger ponds oc-
cupy pre-glacial valleys ; but the smaller ponds, like
Grassy Pond in the north and Sinking Pond in the
southeast, simply occupy small depressions in the
surrounding sand plains.
The Artist's View of Acton. 2 — The surface of
Acton, like that of most Middlesex towns, is suffi-
ciently broken and varied in its character to possess
a fair share of picturesque localities. With the
neighboring towns of Westford and Littleton, it forma
an elevated range of hill country similar to that
formed by Harvard and Bolton, only of lesser height.
Within its boundaries and those of its neighbor
towns are found some of the largest ponds of Middle-
sex. Although unlike Concord or Sunbury, which
are flat and meadowy, and which have the benefit of
a river to supply their most beautiful points, this
town may be said to possess a landscape not inferior
From a picturesque point of view, the near vicinity
of running water is most favorable for producing in-
teresting places. The variety of tree forms found in
such localities, with the different crops on the culti-
vated lands adjoining, are enhanced by the winding
course of the stream. Though without a river, this
town has two mill streams which in a great degree re-
place one. Two sections of the town are crossed by
- By Arthur F. Davis, resident of the town.
large brooks. Both West and South Acton are tra-
versed by Fort Pond Brook, and the frequent dams
erected for mill purposes create a succession of
The finest stretch of this stream is perhaps that from
South Acton Village to the road leading to Concord
Junction at Hanson's. There it bends and twists its
way through a fine succession of rocky and woody
hollows, with here and there an interruption in the
shape of a mill. In this section we are sure it is
equal to any similar water-course in Middlesex in
beauty. Through West Actcu it creates by its way-
ward course many interesting places, but is not so
picturesque as the locality just mentioned.
As one comes along the highway leading from
East Acton to the Centre, he crosses a stream con-
verted by a mill-dam just below into a long, shallow
pond, which extends northward some distance. This
is Nashoba Brook, and, although smaller than the
other, is the most picturesque stream within the town.
Nashoba, from its source in Westford, comes down
a long, winding valley into the meadows of East
Acton. Where it enters Acton it i3 a quiet stream,
flowing unnoticed through stretches of low land until
it reaches the first mill, some two miles from its
head-waters. At this place, where is a saw-mill, are
found some rare bits, considered from a painter's
point of view.
Three tributary brooks enter Nashoba within the
territory of Acton. The first enters near the Carlisle
boundary ; the largest, Nagog Brook, the outlet to
Nagog Pond (this name is not Magog, but Nagog.
The old Indian name is a good one) joins it a mile
or so below the first mill-dam. Just below this is a
smaller rivulet, which drains the meadows north and
west of the Centre. The territory which lies between
the first and third mills embrace the finest and most
picturesque spots on the stream.
The old Jonathan Wheeler place, which is in this
neighborhood, is particularly notable as being one of
the most beautiful localities in the town. Just be-
low the third mill the brook is crossed by a bridge a
few rods south of the old Revolutionary bridge (now
gone), over which the minute-men marched to Con-
cord via the Strawberry Hill road and the fields.
Still farther down the stream is the long pond first
mentioned, with its wide reach of intervale on either
side and picturesque surroundings of the old mill
and dam which creates it.
Both our Acton brooks are tributary to the Assabet
River, and unite their waters with it just over the
Concord line. Although, like other streams, ours are
perhaps the most attractive in the spring and fall,
yet no season will be found unattractive about them.
Each has its peculiar charm, which, if noticed, can
never fail to give pleasure to the observer. Each
cook and corner in their vicinity will amply repay
the effort made to visit them, and a spare hour spent
about them is looked back upon with interest.
The pond region belonging to Acton is not exten-
sive. There are only two small ponds — Grassy and
Sinking Ponds — which are entirely within the town
limits. Grass Pond is unique in having a singular
sedgy growth about its margin, and is a pretty little
sheet of water, famed for its lilies with pink-tinted
leaves, which grow in great profusion.
Sinking Pond is a minute reproduction of Walden,
as it used to be before the building of the railroad
and the advent of the modern pic-nic ground. The
water of this pond, which has no visible outlet or in-
let, is very clear and pure. Scarcely any vegetable
matter appears about its borders, and it is surrounded
by a high ridge of scrubby sand-hills.
Nagog, of which Acton possesses the larger part, is
the first lake in this section in point of size, its length
being about two miles and its width one mile. Its
waters are quite clear and deep, and are broken only
by one small island near the southern end.
There are many fine groups of trees about this
southern end, which is wild and woody. Here are
the greatest number of choice spots in early spring
days, when the young leaves of the birches first green
the wood, and the brilliant oriole hangs her nest on
delicate pensile limbs over the water.
The shore on this side is fringed by quantities of
blueberry bushes and is rocky, without a beach. Back
from these the hills rise up in broad bush-grown
sweffs to the highest point of Acton — Nagog Hill, as
it is called.
The most vital and peculiar feature of our Acton
landscape is found in its apple orchards. These are
the most interesting part of the natural scenery here.
Other towns, doubtless, share with Acton in this re-
spect, but in none of them, in Middlesex at least,
does the apple-tree reach such a picturesque state.
The farmers do not think, many of them, that the
chance and irregular groups of wild apples springing
up beside the road, side wall, or in corners in the
pastures, are worth consideration. However, there is
no more beautiful combination of color in the land-
scape than that offered by these trees in the time of
Wild apples are proverbially famous for the deli-
cacy and fragrance of their bloom, which is also of
richer color than that of the cultivated varieties.
Cultivated orchards, of course, are in greater number
than these wild trees, and are rightly paramount in
commercial importance. Although planted as they
are in checker-board form for economy of space and
ease of cultivation, nature early asserts her maguifi-
cent arrangement and leans the trees in different di-
rections. There is nothing commonplace about the
apple-tree wherever found. Its limbs are crooked
and full of surprising twists, and its spray, though
coarse, is full of characteristic kinks. With the pos-
sible exception of a few varieties, it never forms a
regular cylindrical head, but with its growing years
increases in the beauty of its irregular outline. The
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
orchards are, in short, most typical of our rocky, hilly
country, and are its crowning beauty.
The magnificent blooming tree is a perpetual re-
proach to those who only consider it after its fruit is
packed away in a cellar or in barrels ready for mar-
ket. Theaboundant growth of wood and orchard af-
ford the birds sufficient protection and food to enable
them to multiply without molestation in Acton.
Consequently, our ornithological list embraces most
of the species found in inland New England, with
the exception of the sea birds, a few of which visit
our ponds and brooks in the early spring or fall. The
large family of wood warblers in particular thrive
here; the catalogue often comprises upward of twelve
species and, doubtless, a more practical observer
might extend the list.
In the flora, too, Acton offers particularly rich op-
portunities. The varied character of the country af-
fords protection to a surprisingly wide variety of
plant growth. Among the trees we have nearly all
found in Massachusetts. One, however, the true pa-
per or canoe birch, is well-nigh extinct here, only a
few scattered specimens remaining in town.
Game in Acton. — The hills, woods, brooks and
ponds of Acton have been noted from earliest dates
for the frequent visits of the disciples of the gun and
rod. The Indians for generations had the first chance
on these grounds. We need not go to the books to
be sure that they were in goodly numbers and in Trim
for luck among the fins, the furs and the feathers.
The apostle John, when he went on his missionary
tours among the Indians, had to come to these parts,
for he was sure to find an audience along the Nashoba
waters and the " big brook." These Indians could
sing. Eliot had good success in that line. Wilson
relates that at their meeting " the Indians sung a
Psalm, made Indian by Eliot in one of our ordi-
nary English tunes melodiously." In 1689 there
were twenty-four Indian preachers. In 1676 there
were 567 praying Indians at Nashoba plantation.
James Spear, with his Indian choir, sung Psalms at
one of Eliot's meetings May 14, 1654. There has
always been something in the atmosphere or in the
ground or in the spot in th ; s vicinity congenial to
music. We have heard fish and game stories among
the veterans of our own day, and have heard them
sing and whistle and blow their horns on their home-
ward beat ; but those red men of the past, if they
could speak, would easily silence these modern
The earliest records show that the brooks were once
stocked with some varieties not now common.
Captain Daniel Tuttle's mother, Harriet Wether-
bee, sister to Edward Wetherbee, Senior, used to go
down to the brook, below the dam, and throw out
shad and alewivee in her day. They had at one time,
on the Assabet, at Southeast Acton, a fish warden
and fish weirs.
As early as 15th of February, 1739, there was an
article in the town warrant " to know whether the
town will insist on Mr. Faulkner's opening his dam
30 days in a year, as ye law directs, where alewives
and other fish pass in great plenty."
There used to be a deer's man appointed by the
town to look after the deer and decide upon questions
relating to the matter, which shows the deer were
here. There have always been self-appointed private
wardens to look after the dears, but these were bona-
Men who hunt and fish for sport are noted for their
quiet, modest ways, and it is difficult to get any state-
ment from them on their luck, but by hard pressing,
a few items have been secured, which may be of in-
terest to the public. Worse records even than these
could be had, if the right men could be interviewed
by the right man. They did not intend to have
their names mentioned, and so are not responsible for
the publishing of the inglorious tale of their life
Elnatbsn Jone6 : pickerel, 3000 ; percli, 3000; trout, 200; bass,
100 ; largest pickerel, lbs. ; largest bass, 6 lbs. At one lucky trip
the average weight of the perch, lbs., several weighing 2 lbs. ;
foxes, 30 ; gray squirrels, 200.
Hiram Hapgood in ten years: bass, 20 ; pickerel, 200 ; perch, 400 ;
pouts, 100 ; crows, 1.
J. K. W. Wetherbee : bass, 10 ; pickerel, 1000 ; perch, 2000 ; pouts,
2500 ; gray squirrels, 500 ; raccoon, 1 ; hawk, five feet across from tip
Swift Fletcher: pickerel, 3000 ; the largest number at any one time,
167; pouts, 2500; bass, 100 (three weighing over 4 lbs., not one over
5 lbs.); foxes, 100; raccoons, 7 ; (lucks, 30; gray squirrels, 600; sold
105 skins one year for a robe for Captain Whitcomb ; partridges, 2000 ;
rabbits, 1000 ; pigeons, 4O0 ; Otter, 1.
Fifty years ago pigeons were abundant in the woods,
and during some seasons made it lively for the hunts-
men, who would have great sport in shooting them
upon the wing as they flew in flocks over certain lo-
The pigeon-stands were quite common, where, by
nets and proper baiting, they could be caught in large
The stocking of Nagog Pond a few years since by
the town with bass has introduced a new variety in
the fishing sport.
On the 1st of July, when the permit is issued for
trying the luck on these delightful waters, there is a
decided fish smell in this vicinity. The most sober
men in town — deacons, ministers, lawyers, justices of
the peace, senators and representatives — doctors — the
moderator himself — may be seen rigging their poles
and reeling to and fro — with their lines, if per-
chance, they may strike the spot where they are sure
of a prize.
Just watch the justice a moment. He is leaning
over the boat. He hears the click of the reel as his
line spins out through the ruffled waters. What are
all his cases in court now '? There is only one case
on the docket just now, and that must have all the
nerve and muscle. You may laugh at him and call
him a fool, and off his base ; but the question fairly
holding the court is, bass or no bass.
CAPT. DANIEL TUTTLE.
The 19th of April, 1801.— Again the historic day
returns, rich with its patriotic memories. We hail
its presence as we would that of an old and endeared
friend come back to the family hearthstone. It re-
calls events which should never be forgotten while
the government remains or its annals stand upon the
In the War of the Revolution, without the 19th of
April, there might never have been the 17th of June,
and without the 17th of June there might never have
been the 4th of July, and without the 4th of July the
stars and stripes would never have floated o'er land
and sea to the joy of many generations. To the citi-
zens of Acton and vicinity this day has been for over
a hundred years, of all other days in the year, the
most marked. Its yearly advent has been celebrated
with new and old rehearsals of what occurred at the
North Bridge at Concord, with the ringing of bells,
the firing of salutes, the parade of military, orations,
bonfires and general glorification. The old patriots
who were at the bridge in 1775, when Captain Davis
fell at the head of his command, have told it to their
children and their children's children. The monu-
ment which stands upon the village green is but an
embodiment, in solid native granite, of the sentiment
which has thus been alive among these hills and val-
leys for over a hundred years.
When the telegram came to Captain Daniel Tuttle,
on the evening of April 15th, to have his company
report the next morning at Lowell, armed and equip-
ped for war service, it found a response prompt and
earnest from every man.
Though scattered in different towns, and not ex-
pecting the summons, the bells were rung in the
night, messengers sent in all directions post-haste,
equipments forwarded, carriages procured, overcoats
provided — for it was a cold, cheerless April night —
and at 7.30 o'clock on the morning of April 16th,
Captain Tuttle was able to report to Col. Jones, of the
Sixth Regiment, his whole command ready for duty.
Farms, shops, stores, homes, families, friends, plans,
had been left behind in an instant, and they were on
their way to destinies which none could foretell.
They had played the soldier on the parade-ground in
peaceful days, in holiday attire. It now meant busi-
ness. The country was in a death-struggle all at once.
Its very capitol was in danger of capture or destruc-
tion by rebel hands.
Captain Daniel Tuttle was born February 14, 1814,
on the heights which overlook the village and town,
one of the oldest of a large family of children. His
father, Francis Tuttle, Esq., was for a long time an
officer and influential citizen of the place. The cap-
tain was elected to command the Davis Guards in the
years 1855, 1857, 1859, 1861. He was twice postmas-
ter. He was forty-seven years old at the outbreak of
the war, and exempt by age from military duty. He
was a Breckenridge Democrat in the preceding can-
vass for the Presidency against Lincoln. He had at
the time a large farm on his hands, a wife and numer-
ous children — some of them young.
At the opening of a new season, and with all his
cares so pressing, it seemed impossible for him to
leave; yet when the summons came there was but
one decision. When seated in his wagon, just as he
was about to leave, he said to family, neighbors and
townsmen, as a parting word, "God take care of you
In those dark, ominous moments of suspense, the
appearance of the old Sixth Regiment in Boston, in
the early morning after the evening's summons, and
its steady march down Washington Street, with knap-
sacks, overcoats, flashing bayonets and beating drums,
on their way to the seat of war, and the cheering
and almost frenzied crowds which accompanied every
step, was a scene which it is worth a life to witness.
No one not present can know the enthusiasm of that
Their march down Broadway, New York, was a
repetition of the same scene, only on a grander scale,
and in a city whose citizens were not supposed to be
so largely in sympathy with the soldier. The appear-
ance of the old Sixth Massachusetts in their streets,
made up of all parties, and with each man's life of-
fered for sacrifice, united the divided city, and they
became as one man in saying "The Union shall be
preserved." The passage through Philadelphia was
in the night, or there would have been another repe-
tition of the same boundless cheer and God speed the
right, from the surging crowds of that ever loyal city.
Baltimore was reached on the 19th of April. It
was the North Bridge of division between the
contending sections of the land. The city overflowed
with bitterness, and cursing against the Union, and
the men who came to defend her.
"On this morning," says the historian, " the streets
were filled with a scowling, angry mob, as the cars,
eleven in all, containing the Sixth Massachusetts
Regiment, rolled into town. The cars were drawn by
horses across the city from one railroad to another.
As they penetrated farther into the city the crowd be-
came more dense, and the faces grew blacker with
hate. Stones, brickbats and all kinds of missiles
were thrown through the windows of the cars. At
first the soldiers bore it patiently and without resist-
ance, until all but two of the cars reached the station.
These two, separated from the others, were surrounded
by a yelling crowd, that opposed their passage. The
officers consulted and concluded to disembark the
men and march them in solid column to the station.
The brave fellows went on through a shower of stones,
bricks and scattering shots.
" At last, just before they reached the station, the
colonel gave orders to fire. The soldiers discharged their
guns among the crowd and several of the mob fell
dead or wounded. The troops reached the station and
took the cars. The scene that ensued was terrific.
Taunts, clothed in the most offensive language, were
hurled at the troops by the panting crowd, who, breath-
less with running, pressed to the windows, presenting
knives and revolvers and cursing up into the laces of
the soldiers. Amid such a scene the Massachusetts
regiment passed out of the city, having had four of
their number killed and thirty-six wounded.
"On this very day, the 19th of April, eighty-six
years before, the first blood shed in the war of the
Revolution had stained the grass in front of Lexing-
ton meeting-house, and on the Concord plains.
" On the second anniversary, long to be remembered,
the first blood in the Civil War flowed in the streets of
Baltimore, shed from the veins of the descendants of
these early patriots."
The Davis Guards received at home, on their
return, Aug. 10, 1861. The Davis Guards arrived at
South Acton at about 8.30 o'clock, Saturday morning.
A large crowd had collected to welcome them home.
After cordial greetings a procession was formed and
proceeded to the Centre in the following order : Col.
W. E. Faulkner, chief marshal, assisted by Henry
Wilder, James Wetherbee and John H. Sanborn ;
National Band of Worcester ; Union Guards, Capt. A.
C. Handley, 50 men ; Liberty Guards, Capt. S. Willis,
40 men ; Drum corps ; Hayward Guards, Capt. Daniel
Jones, 62 men ; Lowell Brigade Band (this band
barely escaped with their lives at Baltimore) ; Davis
Guards, Capt. David Tuttle, 52 men ; Concord Artil-
lery, Capt. Prescott, 54 men ; Detachment of Concord
Artillery, with field-pieces, Capt. M. Hobson, 12 men ;
Chief Engineers of Concord Fire Department ; Hook-
and-Ladder Co., Charles Stowell, foreman, 10 men ;
Independent Engine Co., Jonas Melvin, foreman, 60
A little out of the village a procession had been
formed, under the direction of Samuel Hosmer, Esq.,
of the citizens of Acton and the adjoining towns,
awaiting the arrival from South Acton.
Upon the arrival of the military they formed in
the rear, and were thus escorted into town. Upon
the arrival of the procession in town it gathered
around the speaker's stand, when prayer was offered
by the chaplain. Rev. Alpha Morton, after which Dr.
John M. Miles, in behalf of the town, welcomed them
in an eloquent address. This was Responded to in be-
half of Capt. Tuttle, by Dr. Harris Cowdrey.
Col. Faulkner made a brief address to the audience.
About 12.30 o'clock the companies formed into line,
and marching to the monument, three cheers were
called for and heartily given for the American flag,
and at the same time a new, beautiful banner was run
up to the top of the monument by Willie Boss, from
which point, as if by magic, it sprang into the air,
the band playing the " Star Spangled Banner." Hon.
Charles Hudson, of Lexington, then delivered a very
After an intermission of an hour, sentiments were
offered by the toast-master, O. W. Mead, Esq. Brief
addre^es were made by Rev. James Fletcher, of Dan-
vers (a native of Acton), Hon. E. W. Bull, George
Stevens, Esq., John White (a member of Davis
Guards, who fought under the stars and stripes in
Mexico, who is an Englishman, but when the order
for marching came, volunteered to go with the Davis
Guards), Hon. James M. Usher, of Medford, George
M. Brooks, Esq., of Concord, Capt. Phelps, of Lex-
ington, and Lieut. Bowers, of the Concord Rifles.
There were about three thousand people present.
The route of the procession was handsomely decorated
with flags and mottoes, as was also the new store of
James Tuttle & Co., at South Acton. Over the ar-
mory, " Davis Guards not afraid to go ; " in the town-
house, " God defend the right;" on the monument,
" Union, Davis, Hosmer, Hayward ; " at Capt. Daniel
Jones', "Welcome home;" at Lieut. J. Blodgett's,
" Honor to the brave ; " at Hon. John Fletcher, Jr.'s,
" First to go ; " at E. S. Buffum's, " Safe return ; " over
J. Fletcher & Sons' store, " Through Baltimore."
A detachment of the Concord Artillery fired a na-
tional salute on the arrival of the Guards at South
Acton, also as the procession reached the centre of
The Civil War. 1 — The existence of a military
company in Acton at the outbreak of the Rebellion
was of great advantage to the town.
In 1850, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Con-
cord Fight, a union celebration took place at Con-
cord, in which the inhabitants of Acton took part.
A large company from Acton represented the minute-
men of the Revolution, officered by Colonel Win-
throp E. Faulkner, as captain, and Daniel Jones, the
son of Captain Silas Jones, who commanded the
Davis Blues in Boston in the War of 1812, and James
Harris as lieutenants. They wore a flannel blouse
and carried canteens with 1775 stenciled on them as
uniform, and armed with guns of no particular stand-
ard, though some of them looked old enough to have
been at the original Concord Fight ; but the contents
of some of the canteens, judging of its potency, was
of a later period.
The marching of this company elicited warm en-
comiums from military men present, and the result
was a reawakening of interest in military matters in
Acton and the permanent organizing of Company E,
Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, known as the Davis
Guards, the following winter.
Colonel Faulkner was the first captain of this com-
pany, and its other commanding officers till the out-
break of the Rebellion are here given : Captain Dan-
iel Jones, Rufus Holden, Captain Moses Taylor, Cap-
tain Daniel Tuttlle, Captain Aaron C. Handley, and
again Captain Tuttle who was still at its head in 1861.
In obedience to General Order No. 4,. issued by
Governor Andrew, January 16, 1861, requiring the
militia of the State to be forthwith put into a state of
efficiency, this company practiced at drill every
i From an address by Luther Conant, Esq., before the Grand Army.
week during the winter and recruited its ranks' to be
ready to answer any call. On the 19th of January,
at a meeting of the field officers and company com-
manders, at the American House in Lowell, it was
unanimously voted to tender the services of the
Sixth Massachusetts Regiment to the Governor and
Legislature when such services shall become desir-
able for purposes contemplated in General Order No. 4.
On the 28d of January the Legislature proffered to
the President of the United States such aid in men
and money as he he may require to maintain the au-
thority of the National Government. This resolution
was forwarded the same day to the President.
The result of this act of volunteering was that the
Sixth Regiment was the first regiment called, and
General Butler was the first to receive a commission
as a general officer of volunteers.
Many have never been able to understand how a
regiment from Massachusetts should have reached
Washington in advance of nearer States.
The circumstances of the transmission of the order
are given somewhat in detail. The proclamation of
President Lincoln calling for 75,000 men, and convok-
ing an extra session of Congress was dated April 15th,
but did not reach Boston until the 16th and was not
received at Albany until the 17th, receiving from the
Governor of New York on the 19th the response by
telegram to the President that the Seventh would
start for Washington that evening.
On the 15th of April Governor Andrew received
a telegram from Senator Henry Wilson announcing the
call for troops.
The Governor at once issued his Special Order No.
14, commanding the colonels of the Third, Fourth,
Sixth and Eighth Regiments forthwith to muster their
commands in uniform on Boston Common, and sent
it by special messengers. Colonel Jones, who was
in Boston, received his order first, took it to Brigadier-
General Butler for regular transmission and issued
his orders the same day by telegraph to the Lowell
and Lawrence companies of the Sixth and took the
four o'clock train on the Fitchburg Railroad to carry
the order to the companies in Acton and Groton to
assemble in Huntington Hall in Lowell on the morn-
ing of the Kith at seven o'clock — uniformed and ready
to proceed to Washington.
Colonel Jones, on his trip to Groton, met Captain
A. C. Handley in the railroad station at South
Acton, who immediately started with the order to
Late in the afternoon of the 15th Captain Daniel
Tuttle was chosen in town-meeting to an important
office. On being requested by the moderator to be
sworn as usual, he declined for the reason that he
was liable to be sent out of the State with his com-
pany any day.
In a little more than an hour the summons came,
Captain Tuttle started immediately for Lowell and
messengers were sent at once to rally the absent men.
Captain A. C. Handley went to Leominster to notify
the Wilder Brothers and returned with them on time.
Other messengers were sent in different directions,
and at two o'clock in the morning of the 16th the bells
of the town-house and church were rung, calling the
people of Acton to witness the departure of that mil-
tary company which was the first in this or any other
State to leave their homes in response to the Presi-
The company reached Lowell before the hour
named, 7 a.m. on the morning of the 16th, and with
the other companies of the regiment were dispatched
to Boston during the day. Its departure to Washing-
ton was delayed somewhat by reason that it was late
on the morning of the 16th that Governor Andrew
decided to attach to the Sixth Regiment Companies
L and R, from Stoneham and Boston.
The regiment left Boston about sunset on the even-
ing of the 17th, and reached New York the next
morning and Philadelphia the next afternoon. It
left Philadelphia at one on the morning of the 19th,
and, had there been no delay, would have passed
through Baltimore early in the morning and probably
without opposition; but the train carrying the Sixth
was a very long one, and the passage of the Susque-
hanna (then made by ferry) consumed so much time
and the slow rate of speed owing to the length of the
train delayed its arrival at Baltimore until ten o'clock
in the forenoon.
At that time each separate car was drawn through
the streets of the city by strings of horses, and thus
the different companies of the regiment became sep-
The first six companies, including Company E
(Davis Guards), passed through without serious molesta-
tion, but the remaining five companies were attacked
by the mob, through which they gallantly forced their
way, though not without thirty-six of the men re-
ceiving gun shot wounds and the loss of four soldiers
In the long procession of fallen patriots who were
to pass forward and onward to eternity from the bat-
tle-fields of the Rebellion, these four Massachusetts
soldiers led the way.
Leaving Baltimore about two o'clock the Sixth
reached Washington — forty miles distant — late in the
afternoon, and were received by General McPowell, of
General Scott's staff, and were assigned quarters in
the Senate chamber in the Capitol, where they re-
mained about twelve days.
The regiment, aided by a part of the Eighth Regiment
and a battery, the whole under the command of Gen-
eral Butler, then went back and re-opened the route
through Baltimore, staying there some ten days, and *
were detailed to guard the junction of the main track
of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at the Washing-
ton branch, at the Relay House, where they remained
till the expiration of their service.
At this time detachments were sent to Baltimore —
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
one to arrest Marshal Ham and another to capture a
noted rebel who was wanted at Fortress Monroe.
The regiment was mustered in at Washington
April 22d, and discharged August 2d, being absent
from home about 115 days. The term of service,
though brief, is assured a high place in history. This
regiment was the first to leave home and the first to
be attacked. It received a vote of thanks from the first
session of the Thirty-seventh Congress for the alacrity
with which they responded to the call of the President,
and for the bravery and patriotism which they dis-
played on the 19th of April in fighting their way
through Baltimore on their march for the defence of
the national Capitol.
In his order dismissing the regiment Governor
Andrew said: "Its gallant conduct has reflected new
lustre on the Commonwealth, and has given new his-
toric interest to the 19th of April. It will be re-
ceived by our people with warm hearts and generous
hands." Of the fifty-two men who went out under
Captain Tuttle, twenty-seven are now living.
Shortly after the return home of the Sixth Regiment,
Colonel Jones commenced to recruit a regiment of
three years' men, to be numbered the Sixth Massachu-
setts. -It was not till the ranks were full and it was
nearly ready to leave for the seat of war that Gover-
nor Andrew decided to retain the old Sixth as a militia
regiment, to be called upon in cases of special
The new regiment was numbered the Twenty-Sixth,
Most of the officers and many of the men of the old
Sixth had enlisted for three years, and were enrolled
in the Twenty-sixth. Captain Tuttle's health not per-
mitting him to return to the war, William H. Chap-
man, lieutenant of Company E, old Sixth, became
captain of Company E, Twenty-sixth Regiment,
and twenty members of the old company enlisted
in the new one. This regiment was mustered into
the service of the United States October 18,1861,
and left the State November 21st, same year, taking
passage on the steamship "Constitution" to Ship
Island, on the coast of Louisiana, and remained at
Ship Island about tour months.
At that time the fleet under Commodores Farragut
and Porter, bombarded Forts St. Philip and Jackson,
on the Mississippi River, and the Twenty-sixth Regi-
ment moved in rear of the forts in readiness to assault,
but the surrender of the forts avoided the necessity
of an attack, and saved many valuable lives.
After the surrender the regiment garrisoned the
forts about four months, and then was ordered to New
Orleans for provost duty. It remained there about a
year, then started with General Banks on the expedi-
tion up the Red River as far as Opelousas; then or-
dered back to New Iberia, where about three-fourths
of the company re-enlisted, and were given a fur-
lough, commencing April 4, 1864, of one month, to
visit their friends at home. Upon the expiration of
the furlough the regiment was ordered to return to
New Orleans, La., which journey was made on steam-
ship "Cahawha" and arrived at its destination May
After occupying Carrollton and Morganza, it re-
turned to New Orleans, and on July 11th embarked
on steamer "Charles Thomas" for Bermuda Hun-
dred, Va., which place was reached the 21st of July.
On the 28th the regiment marched to Deep Bottom,
Va., where considerable picket firing took place, but
no casualties happened. Subsequently the regiment
was ordered to Washington, D. C., and then marched
through a portion of Maryland to the valley of the
Shenandoah River, reaching Winchester on the morn-
ing of the battle of September 19, 1864. The battle
commenced about 10 o'clock in the forenoon and
lasted till 5 p.m, when the enemy retreated. The
regiment, being in the lead, advanced too far without
proper support, and found itself with the enemy not
only in front, but on both flanks, and, being thus ex-
posed to a severe cross-fire, suffered severely, Company
E having seven men killed or mortally wounded. Of
the four months' men who went into the battle, at its
close only twenty-three were fit for duty. The battle
of Fisher's Hill took place three days later.
On October 18th the three years' term of service of
that portion of the regiment that did not enlist hav-
ing expired, the regiment was consolidated into a
battalion of five companies by Special Order. No. 64,
and those whose term of enlistment had expired were
separated from their comrades who had re-enlisted.
In the battle of the following day, let it be said to the
credit of many of those discharged men, though under
no obligation to do so, they gallantly again entered
the ranks, fought all day and helped to change a tem-
porary defeat into a glorious victory.
I am sorry to say that this voluntary act of patriot-
ism cost some of these noble men their lives. Corporal
Loker tells me that after the fight he helped to bury
two men killed in the action whose term of service
had expired before the battle.
On October 19th the rebel army surprised the
Union troops at Cedar Creek, driving them back four
miles in confusion. This was the scene of Sheridan's
famous ride from " Winchester, twenty miles away,"
though, as a matter of fact, the Union troops had
made a stand before his arrival. The remarks he
made to his men greatly inspirited them, though it
is not probable that these remarks will ever take a
place in polite literature.
The results of the battle of Cedar Creek were the
capture of nearly all of the rebel baggage-train and
field artillery, and the complete dispersion of Early's
forces. The battalion remained at Winchester dur-
ing the winter, were ordered to Washington May 2d,
and one month later were sent to Savannah, Ga.,
where they remained until August 26, 1865, when the
battalion was mustered out of service; left Savannah
September 12th, and reached Boston September 18th ;
were sent to Gallop's Island for final payment, and
MEMORIAL LIBRARY. 1890.
reached Acton the evening of October 21, 1865, after
an absence of four years and three days.
In the narrative of Company E, Twenty-sixth Regi-
ment, I stated that Governor Andrew decided to retain
the Sixth as a militia regiment to answer sudden calls.
In response to such a call it left the State August 31,
1862, to serve for nine months under Colonel Albert
S. Follansbee, of Lowell. Company E, of Acton, was
officered as follows: Aaron C. Handley, captain;
Aaron S. Fletcher and George W. Rand, lieutenants ;
Dr. Isaiah Hutchins, hospital steward for the regi-
Captain Handley had commanded the Davis
Guards some years before the war. His grandfather
had served in the Revolutionary War and his father
did military duty in the War of 1812.
The regiment was ordered to proceed to Suffolk,
Virginia, near Fortress Monroe. It assisted in the
construction of Forts Nansemond and McLellan. The
regiment was detailed for guard duty in the forts,
afterwards for scouting duty and destroying rebel
railroads, among which were the Norfolk and Peters-
burg Railroad and the Seaboard and Roanoke.
The regiment took part in several battles and skir-
mishes. Among these may be mentioned the Deserted
House, Carrsville and Ludlow Lawrence's home. In
these actions the Sixth had twenty-seven men killed
and wounded. No casualties in Acton company,
though that company lost three men by disease. The
regiment was mustered out June 3, 1863.
The services of the old Sixth were required for the
third and last time during the war, for a term of
enlistment of one hundred days, commencing July 18,
Col. Follansbee again led the regiment, and Co. E,
Davis Guards, of Acton, was under the following list
of officers : Frank M. Whitcomb, who was orderly ser-
geant during the nine months' term of service in 1861
and 1863,. was captain, with George W. Knight and
Isaiah Hutchins as lieutenants. The regiment was
ordered to proceed to Washington, D. C, and marched
to Arlington Heights and performed fatigue duty in
front of Fort Stevens for two or three weeks. This
fatigue duty consisted in leveling the ground and fell-
ing trees to give greater range and efficiency to the
great guns of the fort. After this time it was ordered
to garrison Fort Delaware and to guard the rebel
prisoners in the fort. After a useful but uneventful
term of service it was mustered out, Oct. 27th, and re-
Of the one hundred men in Captain Whitcomb's
company, twenty-nine were from Acton. No casual-
ties or deaths occurred during this enlistment.
The official military record of the town of Acton re-
ports as sent to the army during the War of the Rebel-
lion 215 different men, including twenty commissioned
officers. The adjutant-general's report for 1865 states
that at the close of the war she had answered all calls
required to fill her quota, and had a surplus of thirty
men to her credit. The number of commissioned offi-
cers was exceptionally large. No Acton-born soldier,
credited to her quota, deserted, or failed to receive an
The recruiting committee of the town were the
selectmen : James E. Billings, J. K. W. Wetherbee and
Jonas K. Putney, with an assistant committee of
three : Daniel Wetherbee, Capt. A. C. Handley and
Varnum B. Mead.
Four brothers enlisted from one family, and the
head of that family a widow, Mrs. Abram Handley.
Though one of these brothers (Frank) died eaily in
the war, and another (George) was discharged for dis-
ability, their combined terms of service were more
than ten years.
Mr. Wheeler's three sons all enlisted. In six other
cases, two brothers were in the ranks together, and in
one both father and son, William and William B.
Reed, were in the service at the same time. a
Luke Smith was credited three times to the quota
of the town, whose father, Solomon Smith, marched
over the same road under Captain Isaac Davis to the
old North Bridge that his son, Luke, followed in part
under Captain Daniel Tuttle, eighty-four years later.
Mr. Smith was the oldest soldier credited to Acton's
quota, having at his last enlistment (for one hundred
days) in 1864, reached the age of more than fifty
Thomas Kinsley, Jr., was the youngest recruit, being
but fifteen years and two months old at the time of
Of the 216 men credited to Acton, eighteen died
while in service, either killed in battle or victims of
disease. This does not include natives or residents
of Acton, who were credited to other towns, who died
Memorial Library. — This memorial structure,
just completed, stands upon the north side of the
Main Street at the Centre, nearly opposite the Davis
Monument. It has an' ideal location, partially
shaded by the elms and maples, which give it a
classic repose even at the start.
Its. approach is by an easy ascent from the east,
south and west, over concrete walks. It is a few rods
northeast of the Town House, with which it is con-
nected by concrete and a fine lawn, a site known for
over sixty years as the Fletcher Homestead. It is the
most unique and costly building ever erected in town,
and is destined to be the centre of culture for many
generations to come.
The style of architecture is Romanesque. The ex-
ternal appearance and the internal arrangements and
furnishings are in harmony with this idea, and can be
properly judged only from that standpoint. The
architects are H. W. Hartwell and William G. Rich-
ardson, of Boston. The building is composed of red
brick and brownstone.
Its extreme length is sixty-six feet six inches and
its depth thirty-two feet and ten inches from south to
north. The principal entrance opens upon the south
and through a large, solid freestone arch, which has
rich mouldings and carved spandrels, within which
are to be placed memorial tablets to the soldiers in
the War of the Rebellion, of which this town furnished
a large number. On entering the building, a reading-
room, called the Memorial Room, sixteen by twenty-
five feet, is found at the left. It has heavy beamed
ceiling, a large antique brick fire-place and decorated
walls. Above the fire-place is a handsome brown-
stone tablet, with this carved inscription :
" This building a gift to his native town by
William Allen Wilde."
The room has rich oak tables, settees and
chairs, all in the olden style. Opposite the read-
ing-room, and at the right, is the book apartment,
thirty-two feet six inches long, twenty-four
feet six inches wide, twenty feet high. Along the
sides of this are arranged book alcoves, two stories
high, having light connecting galleries for the second
tier, reached by stairs at the right and left of the
desk occupied by the librarian. The desk is so lo-
cated that the person in charge of it can command a
view of the book-room and the reading room also,
this latter opening into the central reading space by
a large open archway. Located at the north of this
central hall is the room devoted to the library trus-
tees, thirteen by fifteen feet, with a northern light,
richly furnished. Opening out of this is a fire-proof
vault, where articles of value and the archives of the
town can be stored. In the opposite corner is a
toilet-room, fitted up with all modern conveniences.
All the spaces and rooms are brilliantly lighted from
chandeliers, and heated by two large furnac es in the
cellar, which is by itself quite an institution — ce-
mented, drained and plastered. The water arrange-
ments are quite a specialty, embracing a tank in the
attic, which can be easily filled by a force-pump
connecting with a well that belonged to the estate,
seventy-five feet deep, the' bottom of which is a solid
ledge, containing an unfailing spring of the purest
and coolest water.
The corporators of the library under the charter
are Luther Conant, Adelbert Mead, Moses Taylor,
. Hiram J. Hapgood, Delette H. Hall and Daniel
James Wetherbee. These are constituted trustees
for life, with power to fill vacancies in case of death
or resignation of any one of their number. Three
additional trustees are to be chosen by the town, one
for three years, one for two years and one for one
In the future, after the organization, the town is to
elect by ballot each year one trustee of the three,
elective for three years.
Mr. Wilde's letter presenting Memorial Library
Building to the town of Acton :
" Malpen, Mass., Feb. 27, 1890.
" To the Selectmen of Acton :
" Gentlemen, — For a long time past it lias been my intention, if ever
I was able to do so, to remember my native town by the gift of some mem-
orial to the memory of those brave ami patriotic men of Acton who so
freely gave time, strength and health— and many of them their lives—
in the War of the Rebellion, 1801-65.
" To carry out this plan in what seemed to me the most advantageous
and permanent method possible, I have purchased the estate of ReT.
James Fletcher, adjacent to the Town-House, and erected thereon a
Memorial Library, placing upon its Bhelves some four thousand volumes,
more or less, and I beg the privilege of presenting this property to the
town as a free gift, only stipulating that it shall rorever be kept as a
Memorial Library, and free to all the citizens of the patriotic old town
of Acton, which I shall always love and be proud of.
" If it shall please the town to accept this gift I shall be glad to pass
all necessary papers for the transfer of the property to whom and at
such time as the town shall direct.
" I am, gentlemen, yours truly,
" William A.' Wilde."
Upon reading this letter, by Mr. Howard B. White,
chairman of the Board of Selectmen, to the citizens of
Acton, in tewn-meeting assembled, .March 3, 1890,
Rev. James Fletcher presented the following resolu-
tions, which were unanimously adopted by the town,
to be forwarded to Mr. Wilde in response, and to be
placed upon the town records:
" Whereas a charter of Incorporation has passed the Lei^islature and
been signed by his Excellency Gov. J. Q. A. Brackett incorporating the
Memorial Library, and Hon. William A. Wilde, a native of Acton — now
a resident of Maiden— has signified his readiness to deed to the town the
Memorial Library Building just completed at his expense, and the laud
on which it stands, and all the appurtenances thereof, including books
already selected, the Memorial Room and the town-vault for the arch-
ives of the town, —
"Resolved 1st, We, the inhabitants of the town of Acton, in town-
nieeting assembled, do accept the trust and authorize the Selectmen, in
behalf of the town, to sign all papers and perform all acts necessary to
complete the transfer of the property to the care of the trustees.
" Resolved 2d, In passing this vote we wish to express to Mr. Wilde —
in behalf of the present inhabitants of the town ; in behalf of all future
generations who may be resident here, and participants in the benefits
to be enjoyed ; in behalf of the soldiers of the War of the Rebellion,
whose memory and valor he has so tenderly cherished in the name and
arrangement of the structure — our profound appreciation of his gener-
" We assure him of our hearty thanks for remembering the place ot
his birth by a memento so enduring and so befitting the past history and
future needs of the town.
"We assure him or our cordial co-operntion in doing what in us lies
to perpetuate the intentions and possibilities of the trust.
" We tender to him, his companion and his children our best wishes
for their life, health and prosperity, and our prayer that the douation, in
whieh they each have a personal share and honor, may contribute to
their mutual and lasting enjoyment."
The selectmen and the whole Board of Trustees
were authorized to make all necessary arrangements
for the dedication of the building.
The trustees chosen by the town at the March
meeting, 1890, are the following : William D. Tuttle
for three years, James Fletcher for two years, Howard
B. White for one year.
Mr. William Allen Wilde, the donor, was born in
Acton, Mass., July 11, 1827. He is now resident in
Maiden, Mass., and does business as a publisher, his
office being at 25 Bromfield Street, Boston. His father,
Joseph Wilde, lived in Southeast Acton, married
Sarah Conant, of Stow, sister to Abraham and Simeon
Conant, of Acton. He died in Acton, in the eighty-
second year of his age. Their children were : Mary,
now living in Moultonboro', N. H.; Silvia, deceased ;
Sarah, living with Mary ; John, who was drowned ;
HON. WM. A.. WILDE.
Joseph, living in Natick, with seven children and
prospering in business ; Willliam A.; and George,
living in Somerville.
Benjamin 1 , tlie father of Joseph Wild 5 , died when
fifty-six years old, of yellow fever. He married Sil-
via Thayer, of Boston. She died two days after her
husband and was buried in Acton. Her daughter,
Silvia, died of yellow fever two days after her mother
and was buried in Acton.
William Wild', the father of Benjamin 4 , lived in
Randolph, Mass., and died when eighty-seven years
William 2 , the father of William 3 , lived in Brain-
tree, Mass., and died in his eighty-seventh year.
William Wild 1 , the father of William 2 , landed
from England in 1632, and lived in Randolph, Mass.,
which was then a part of Braintree.
William A. Wilde 6 , the sou of Joseph Wild 5 ,
married, first, Loise A. Mace, of Pepperell, Mass.,
without issue. Married, second, Lydia Jane Bride, of
Berlin, Mass. Children : Jennie, born September 7,
1854, deceased at sixteen years of age; Carrie, born
October 12, 1856, deceased at seven years of age ; Wil-
liam Eugene, born in Acton September 12, 1858, mar-
ried, in 1885, Effie Jean Dresser, of Portland, Me. Mar-
ried, third, Celestia Dona Hoyt, of Wentworth, N. H.
Children : Alice Elizabeth, born June 12, 1869 ; Al-
len Hoyt, born April 29, 1874.
Mr. Wilde was educated at Groton and Pepperell
Academies. He has taught school twelve years, been
superintendent of the schools of the city of Maiden ;
five years chairman of the Water Board when large
and expensive water-works were being constructed.
He represented Maiden two years in the Legisla-
ture, and was chairman of the House Committee of
Education. He has been trustee of the Maiden Li-
brary eight years, and is now one of the Prison
Commissioners of the State of Massachusetts.
Our Honored Dead (Tablet List).
BY JULIAN TUTTLE.
Luke W. Bowers; he enlisted in Aug., 1862, Co. E, 33d Mass. Reg. ; died
of wounds May 1, 1864, at Resaca, Georgia.
Albert Conant, enlisted Dec., 1861, in Co. F, 30th Mass. Reg. ; he died
at sea Jan., 1864, on the voyage home.
Elbridge Conant, enlisted Aug. 18, 1862, in Co. E, 6th Mass. Reg. ; died
Feb., 1863, at Suffolk, Va.
Eugene L. Hall, enlisted Feb.,' 1864, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; killed
Sept., 1864, at Winchester, Va.
Frank Handley, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
July, 1862, at Fort St. Philip, near New Orleans, La.
Augustus W. Hostner, enlisted Sept., 1861, in 26th Mass. Reg. ; band;
died Nov., 1861, at Acton, Mass.
Eli Huggins, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. A, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died Oct ,
1863. at New Orleans, La.
Samuel C. Hanscom, enlisted Dec, 1862, in Co. A, 2d Mass. Cavalry ;
killed July, 1864, at Aldie, Va.
James P. Hanscom, enlisted May, 1861, in Co. E, 1st Minnesota Reg.;
died Nov., 1862, at Portsmouth Grove, R. I.
John A. Howard, enlisted Aug., 1862, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
Dec, 186.3, at New Orleans, La.
John S. Harris, enlisted June, 1861, in Co. F, 11th Maes. Reg. ; killed
May, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Va.
Francis Kinsley, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
April, 1861, at Acton, Mass.
Thomas Kinsley, Jr., enlisted Feb., 18G4, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg.;
died Nov., 1864, at Washington, D. C.
Georgo Warren Knight, enlisted Oct., 1862, in Co. E, 53d Mass. Reg. ;
died April, 1863, at New Orleans, La.
Henry W. Lazoll, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
Aug , 18G3, at New Orleans, La.
James R Leutell, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
Nov., 1862, at New Orleans, La.
William H. Loker, enlisted in Sept., 1861, in Co. E , 26th Mass. Reg. ;
died April, 1863, at Acton, Mass.
Marivan Miner, enlisted Aug., 1862, in Co. I, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
Feb., 1863, at New Orleans, La.
Matthew McKinney, enlisted Aug., 1863, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ;
died Sept., 1863, at Berwick City, La.
William B. Reed, enlisted Au<., 1862, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ; died
Jan., 1864, at Franklin, La.
Warren R. Wheeler, enlisted Sept., 1861, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg. ;
died July, 1862, at Fort St. Philip, near New Orleans, La.
James M. Wright, enlisted Nov., 1861, in Co. B, 32d Mass. Reg. ; died
Sept., 1862, at Philadelphia, Penn.
John II. P. White, enlisted Sept., 1863, in Co. E, 26th Mass. Reg- ; died
July, 1863, at New Orleans, La.
Samuel E. Wilson, enlisted in 1864, in Co. K, 7th California Reg. ; died
Feb., 186*1, at Fort Yuma, Cal.
Daniel A. Loverlng, enlisted Aug., 18G2, in Co. H, 13th Mass. Reg. ;
killed June, 1864, at Cold Harbor, Va.
Luke Robbins, enlisted iu Boston, Mass., June, 1864, as a seaman for
two years; served on board the "Ohio" and " Seminole ; " was
killed on the "Seminole" at Galveston, Texas, May, 1865.
Frank J. Barker, enlisted in Co. C, 118th 111. Reg., Aug., 1862 ; died at
Milliken'sBeud, La., April, 1863, aged 19.
Eben Barker, enlisted in Co. F, 50th 111. Reg., Aug., 1861 ; died at
Quincy, 111., Jan., 1862, aged 22.
Cyrus E. Barker, enlisted July, 1861, in Co. H, 13th Mass. Reg. ; dis-
charged Jan., 1863, for disability; afterwards enlisted in Co. C,
59th Mass. Reg. Ho was at the battle at Weldon Railroad ; was
taken prisoner, and after seven months was exchanged ; died at
Annapolis, Md., April, 1865, aged 22.
The names of Acton men who served in the War of
the Rebellion, and who survived that war:
Colonel, William H. Chapman ; Captains, Aaron C. Handley, Daniel
Tuttle, Frank H. Whitcomb ; Lieutenants, Silas P. Blodgett, Henry
Brown, Aaron S. Fletcher, Elias E. Haynes, Isaiah Hutchins, George
Willard Knights, James Moulton, George W. Rand, William F. Wood ;
Privates, Frank W. Ames, George T. Ames, George E. Barker, John F.
Blood, Charles H. Blood, George F. Blood, William H. Boss, Henry L.
Bray, Daniel R. Briggs, Charles A. Brooks, Samuel R. Burroughs,
Hiram Butten, Patrick Callahan, Geerge Fay Campbell, Waldo Chap-
lin, William Chaplin, Jr., William D. Clark, Robert C. Conant, Simon
T. Conant, J. Sherman Conant, John Conway, George B. Cran, John B.
Cran, Waldo G. Dunn, Oscar Dwelley, Abel Farrar, Jr., Daniel H. Far-
rar, Winthrop H. Faulkner, James W. Fiske, John W. Fitzpatrick,
Charles W. Fletcher, Aaron J. Fletcher, Ephraim B. Forbush, Channey
U. Fuller, Meldon S. Giles, Henry Gilson, Nathan Goes, William B.
Gray, William H. Gray, Delette H. Hall, George Handley, Charles
Handley, William S. Handley, Abram Handley, Charles A. Hanscom,
Marshall Hapgood, Henry napgood, Francis E. Harris, Forestus D. K.
Hoar, J. Sherman Hoar, Walter 0. Holden, Gilman S. Hosmer, Judson
A. Huggins, Eri Hoggins, Jr., Sylvanus Hunt, Loring M. Jackson,
Mortimer Johnson, George A. Jones, Edwin A. Jones, Charles Jones,
George Jones, Richard Kinsley, Jonathan W. Loker, Emory D. Lothrop,
Lewis J. Masten, William Morrill, Charles Morse, Charles H. Moulton,
Albert Moulton, Augustus P. Newton, George B. Parker, Henry D.
Parliu, George E. Peck, George N. Pierce, George M. Pike, Michael
Powers, Oscar E. Preston, John Putnam, William Reed, Levi II. Rob-
bins, Joseph N. Robbins, Elbridge J. Robbins, Luke J. Robbins, Varnum
F. Robbins, Albert Rouillard, George Rouillard, George W. Sawyer,
Andrew J. Sawyer, George H. Simpson, Benjamin Skinner, Dennis
Shohan, Luke Smith, George D. Smith, Silas M. Stetson, Emory A.
Symonds, Edwin B. Taft, Edwin Tarbell, Daniel G. Taylor, Warren L.
Teel, Daniel L. Veasey, Robert Wayne, John Wayne, James Wayne,
Hiram W. Wetherbee, Addison B. Wheeler, Lincoln E. Wheeler, Everett
Wheeler, William F. B. Whitney, Samuel E. Wilson, James H. Wood,
Eben F. Wood, Charles H. Young.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
The Congregational Church. — This church and
society was launched upon its mission amid great
religious commotion. The times were full of sharp
and heated controversy upon doctrinal points. The
lines were rigidly drawn, and neutrals were at a dis-
The worship was first in a chapel, built for the pur-
pose, now occupied by Mr. Julian Tuttle. This was
the scene of many earnest gatherings. It was where
Mr. Woodbury began his most effective preaching,
and it being a time when all this section of country
was marked by great religious awakenings, the events
are easily recalled by those still living, cotempora-
neous with those early dates.
The church was organized by a council March 13,
1832, and a house of worship fifty by forty-four feet,
built the next year. Many of the importanr. members
of the old church united with the new in its first forma-
tion. Rev. James Trask Woodbury was ordained and
installed March 13, 1832. After preaching twenty
years, he was dismissed at his own request June 23,
1852, and was afterwards settled in Milford, Massa-
chusetts, where he died January 15, 1861, aged fifty-
Rev. Benjamin Dodge, of Wilton, Maine, was his
successor. He was installed October 28, 1852, and
dismissed April 17, 1855.
Until September, 1855, the church was supplied by
Rev. Messrs. Alvord and Francis Horton.
Rev. Charles Rockwell then commenced his labors
as a stated supply. On his leaving in July, 1856,
Rev. Martin Moore, of Boston, and others, supplied
the pulpit until January, 1857, when Rev. Joseph
Garland was hired two years.
From January, 1859, to May of the same year the
pulpit was supplied by various clergymen.
Rev. Alpha Morton was then engaged for four years
successively, resigning May 1, 1863, to accept an en-
gagement with the church at West Auburn, Maine.
Rev. George Coleman was ordained and installed
November 12, 1863, and was dismissed in May, 1869.
The Rev. Franklin P. Wood was ordained July 24,
1871, and installed as pastor October 10, 1872, and
dismissed December 17, 18?4.
During Rev. Mr. Woodbury's pastorate two houses
of worship were erected.
The following is a description of the present house
as found in the church records in Mr. Woodbury's
"1847, January 1st. The new meetinghouse erected on the §pot
where stood the former one was dulj dedicated to Almighty Cod, Son
and Holy Ghost, Doc. 16, 1846, Wednesday at one o'clock p.m. House
75 foet by 50, with a basement story of stone with 82 pews; Co6t about
$6tKX>, exclusive of the fresco painting of the interior and the cushions,
carpels, lamps, clock, communion table and chairs, Bible and hymn
hooks, which all cost S70O, and were all absolute gifts to the church and
the house, not to be put upon the pews.
"The building Committee were: Dr. J. M. Miles, Samuel Hosmer
(2 4 ), Simon Tuttle, John P. Buttrlck, Col. Winthrop E. Faulkner, aud
they did their duty faithfully and are entitled to the lasting gratitude of
More than six hundred different persons have been
members of this church.
Some repairs and alterations were made in the
early part of 1867, and a fine organ introduced at a
cost of §1320. The deacons and officers of this church,
have been as follows : Deacons Silas Hosmer and
Phineas Wheeler, died in 1838, aged sixty-five, chosen
at the organization ; Deacon Hosmer died in 1872,
eighty years old ; Deacon Stevens Hayward, chosen
April 3, 1835, died in 1868, aged eighty-one ; Deacon
John Fletcher, chosen December 7, 1838, died in
1879, aged eighty-nine; Deacon Abraham Conant,
chosen February 3, 1843, died in 1861, aged seventy-
seven ; Deacon John White, chosen February 3,1843,
died in 1860, aged seventy-five ; and Deacon Samuel
Hosmer, Albert Hayward, William W. Davis, and
Joel F. Hayward, chosen January 1, 1864.
March, 1885, William Davis Tuttle chosen. He
has been superintendent of the Sabbath School, also
Rev. George M. Stearns is the present pastor, in-
stalled September 23, 1887.
Deacon Silas Hosmer was clerk of the church from
its organization to his death.
Rev. James T. Woodbury was born in Frances-
town, New Hampshire, May 9, 1803, and died at Mil-
ford, Massachusetts, January 16, 1861, aged fifty-
eight. He married Miss Augusta Porter, of Medford,
daughter of Jonathan Porter. His father, Honorable
Peter Woodbury, was a pioneer merchant, and for
many years a practical farmer in the upper division
of old Hillsborough County. His father was dis-
tinguished through his whole life for his strong, plain,
common sense, great energy of character, as well as
for his uncompromising integrity. He was for a great
many years a member of one or the other branches of
the New Hampshire Legislature, commencing almost
with the first session after the adoption of the Consti-
tution by that State and being at the time of his death
a member of the Senate. His father and his mother,
whose maiden-name was also Woodbury, were of dif-
ferent distantly related families of Beverly, of this
State, and they could both trace their origin to the
ancient town of Woodbury, in Devonshire, England.
His mother was a woman of rare ability. James T.
Woodbury was a younger brother of Honorable Levi
Woodbury, an eminent jurist and popular and able
public officer, for years a judge of the United States
Supreme Court. There were twelve children. James
T. was graduated at Harvard University in 1823. He
began a course of legal studies under the direction of
his distinguished brother at Portsmouth, New Hamp-
shire; was admitted to the bar in his native state in
1826. He at once opened an office for practice as a
lawyer in Bath, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
No young man for many years had come to the bar
with fairer prospects. With a thorough education,
with talents of the highest order, with an unblem-
ished character, with great natural physical and in-
REV. JAMES T. WOODBURY.
tellectual powers, married to an amiable and highly
accomplished wife, beloved by a large circle of friends,
all looked that he should rival the fame of his elder
brother, who had even then reached the highest
honors within the gift of his native State. But in the
midst of his apparent worldly prosperity his ambition
was suddenly checked and his whole course of life was
suddenly changed. Under the preaching of the Rev.
Mr. Sutherland, a Scotch clergyman of Bath, familiarly
known as Father Sutherland, he became a sincere con-
vert to the religious creed in which he had been edu-
cated by his pious and excellent mother. After a
long struggle with himself, and against the advice and
remonstrances of many friends, he relinquished his
profession as a lawyer, and all his hopes and dreams
of future greatness and worldly glory, and devoted
himself to a course of theological studies. As soon
as this course was completed he was ordained over
the Evangelical Church in Acton, where he remained
from 1832 to 1852, when he became a pastor of the
church in Milford, and remained a pastor till the
time of his death.
No person could stand for twenty years in any com-
munity, holding the relations which were held by
Mr. Woodbury in Acton, without making a deep im-
pression upon the public mind. He had a personal
presence, traits of character, mental peculiarities and
forces, which took him out of the ordinary line of
influence, so that when he left town, not the parish
simply, but the whole community and neighboring
towns felt the change.
By a large majority this change was lamented and
is to this day, even by some who were his opponents
As a preacher Mr. Woodbury was especially noted.
Why so noted ? It was not because of his rare theo-
logical training. In this he was confessedly deficient,
and at times even boasted of the fact that he had not
been to Andover, or any of the other celebrated schools
of the day. It was not because he had a natural
theological acumen, which would supplement the de-
ficiency of school discipline. His most ardent admir-
ers admitted this, and some were glad of it. It was
not because of his labored preparations for the Sab-
bath effort. Few have carried into the pulpit prepa-
rations apparently so meagre. His discourses were
seldom written, and when partially so, were for some
cause the least effective. He had simply the lawyer's
brief, a small bit of paper, which none but himself
could decipher, and he with difficulty at times.
But he had a large, commanding person — a character-
tic of the Woodbury family. He had a clear-ringing,
variable voice, which he could modulate to any cir-
cumstances, grave or comic, to any audience-room,
large or small. He had a quick, susceptible nature
which flooded his face with tears, sometimes of tender
sympathy and sorrow, of sudden humor or contagious
passion. He would cry when others had no thought
of it. It was all the same to him. He had a rare gift
of descriptive narrative. Not often did he finish a dis-
course, however impressive, without telling some
anecdotes which, told in his blunt, quaint style, would
raise a smile through the house and cause one to look
to his neighbor as if to say, "That is just like him
and nobody else." He had a fondness for nature in
all her varied forms, human nature not excepted,
which, bubbling up like water from a living spring,
gave a freshness to his words and sentiments and
bearing before an audience.
There was a frankness and boldness and what some
would call a rashness in uttering his convictions which
provoked approval and opposition, and he did not
seem to care which. People gave him credit for
meaning what he said, even if they did not agree
His emotional conception of every subject which he
treated, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, gave
him a power which he wielded with wonderful effect
on great occasions.
The monument which stands upon our village
green never would have graced the spot nor extend-
ed the patriotic fame of the town but for his memora-
ble address to the Legislature.
His only enkindled emotions transferred into the
membership of the House thrilled them for a moment
into a patriotic ecstasy.
They could hear again the rattle of the musketry
at the North Bridge, and the shriek of Captain Davis
as he fell at the head of the advancing column.
The 19th of April was back with all its parapher-
nalia of stir and fire and blood.
In this gush of excitement it was easy for them to
vote yea when they had thought and purposed to vote
nay on the appropriation.
As a reformer Mr. Woodbury's gifts were conspic-
uous on the platform. His humor and pathes and
passion and wit, his bluntness, quaintness and oddi-
ties, his independent honesty and high purpose gave
him at one time a foremost rank as an anti-slavery and
In all the region around about and in many distant
places his efforts when in happiest moods will be re-
membered as sparkling with telling points and a
The whole town revived under his manly strokes.
The houses and farms and shops and roads and schools,
which had languished under the blight of intemper-
ance now took on a new lease of prosperity.
Many a man headed for the drunkard's grave re-
versed his steps, thanks to Mr. Woodbury's eloquent
appeal. Peace be to his ashes !
His oft-repeated wish to be buried in Acton, with
the dear people to whom he had ministered in the
buoyancy and strength of his best years, has been
gratified. He sleeps in Woodlawn Cemetery, by the
granite shaft which he erected in memory of his
beloved son, James Trask, Jr., by the side of his
Augusta, as he was wont so fondly always to call her,
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX
the companion, stay and grace of his entire married
Extracts from an ordination charge hy Mr. Wood-
hury to a young pastor :
" My Son, I have begotten you in the Gospel, so I call you my son.'
"Sly Son. 1st. Get your sermons from the Bible, the closet and the
" 2d. Be brief. You are a short man and the people will not expect
loDg sermons from you, my Son. Unless you deem yourself a very elo-
quent man. Be brief! be brief!
"3d. If it rains, let it rain! The rain may do good. If you try to stop
it, it may rain so much the harder. My Son, let it rain!
"4th. Throw physic to the dogs! They may not like, but they might
as w ell have it as yon. You don't need it. Air, exercise, good food and
plenty of it, are better than physic. Let the dogs have it.
" 5th. Trust in God and keep your powder dry. If your powder is wet
it will not be of any use. Trust in God, but you must have dry powder
or your shooting will not hit the mark. My son, God bless you and
your people. Amen."
Reminiscences. — One hot summer morning in July,
quite early in the day, there was heard a loud shout-
ing from a carriage which had stopped in the street
opposite : " I say ! I say I ! I say ! ! !
Hurrying to the door, Mr. Woodbury, of Acton,
some thirty miles distant, was recognized sitting in
the carriage alone, stripped all hut his pants and
shirt. He was not expected. His first salutation was,
"I say! have you any milk?" other questions followed,
but the first thing to be settled was milk; he was
Why Mr. Woodbury liked to live outside the vil-
lage. "Because," he said, "he could shout as loud
as he pleased without disturbing his neighbors."
Why he wore a broad-brimmed hat, loose-fitting
coat and pants of blue color, carried a blue umbrella,
instead of black, had boots with sole leather project-
ing a half-inch beyond the upper leather, drove his
oxen through the village in a farmer's frock, with
pants in his boots. Because he had a mind to.
Why he liked the Acton choir. Because it was a
large choir and made up of ladies as well as gen-
tlemen, and Augusta stood for years a prominent
and graceful singer among them. He got tired of
this all gander music when in college.
Deacon John Fletcher w r as born in Acton July 21,
1790, and died July 1G, 1879, in his ninetieth year.
He was the son of James, the son of Timothy, the son
of Timothy, the son of Samuel, the son of Francis,
the son of Robert, who came from England to Con-
cord, Mass., in 1630, when thirty-eight years of age.
He was at the time of his death the oldest person in
Acton. He was nine years of age when George
Washington died, and remembered distinctly the
sensation which that event made throughout the
country. In his boyhood all the territory west of the
Hudson was a wilderness.
He married Clarissa Jones, the youngest of eleven
children, all but one of whom lived to mature life,
whose father was Aaron Jones. She died in her sev-
enty-sixth year (February 8th), after being married
over fifty years, the mother of seven children. He
united with the church, together with his wife, No-
vember 3, 1833, and was for many years one of its
In his early life he was captain of the Davis Blues,
and was familiarly called Captain Fletcher. He was
clerk of the company when it went to Boston in the
War of 1812. He held the office of special commis-
sioner for Middlesex County for several years. He
was for a long period of years the veteran boot and
shoe manufacturer of this reg'on, and in company
with his sons, John and Edwin, carried on the busi-
ness up to the time of his decease. He was consci-
entious in his dealings with his patrons, stamped his
name upon his work, and made it good, if at any time
there was a failure. He was largely interested in the
general appearance of the Common, in the planting
of the noble elms which now give dignity and beauty
to the village, and but for his exertions and those of
Francis Tuttle, Esq., they would have perished in the
severe drought of 1840, after they were set out. He
was interested in the erection of the public buildings
of the Centre.
After his former shoe-factory and the old church,
which was used as a town hall, were burnt, he en-
couraged the town to rebuild on the old site a new
and commodious structure, offering to rebuild a shoe-
factory which should be an ornament to the place,
which he did as promised.
As early as 1815 he began an industry in the town,
which, till within a few years, was of great advantage
to the material interests. He early espoused the tem-
perance cause, and became an earnest advocate of the
principles of anti-slavery. His ardent support of the
temperance cause cost the loss of a valuable orchard
in 1843 — destroyed by the girdling of his trees — and
the same was repeated upon him a few years after-
wards. When he became convinced that a certain
course was right he gave himself to it heart and
hand, with but little regard to the consequences to
himself. In 1828 he, with his brother James, built
the homestead, which till recently remained on the
site now occupied by the Memorial Library.
Simon Hapgood died in Acton December 21st, aged
eighty-six years and ten months. He was one of the
original frunders of the Congregational Society, was
for nearly forty years an exemplary member of the
church, and for many years a teacher in the Sabbath-
school; was one of the earliest advocates of temper-
ance and emancipation, and was always identified
with that which is for the best good of the community
and the world at large.
Deacon W. W. Davis was born in Harvard March,
1824; came to Acton April, 1861. He married Mar-
tha Taylor, of Boston, April 7, 1853. She died De-
cember 8, 1868. Children : William and Ada. He
has taught school eighteen terms. In 1861 he repre-
sented the towns of Boxboro', Littleton, Carlisle and
Acton in the State Legislature, being what was called
the War Session. August 3, 1882, he married Abby
DEA. JOHN FLETCHER.
R. Worthiley, of Andover. He has been selectman
of Acton, two years; School Committee superin-
tendent, three years; Sabbath-school superintendent,
fifteen years ; deacon of the Congregational Church
since 1862. In politics the deacon has been uniformly
a Republican. He has been a hard-working man,
greatly improving his farm and lifting from himself
burdens which at the beginning he had to assume.
Hon. John Fletcher was the son of Deacon John
Fletcher; born in 1827. He was of the firm of John
Fletcher & Sons till his father's death, in 1879. Since
then he has been in the firm of S. T. Fletcher & Co.,
with his son, Silas Taylor, at 77 Clinton Street, Bos-
ton. The business is that of butter and eggs commis-
sion store. Though retiring in his habits, he has
taken an active interest in public affairs, in parish,
town and country. He has been chorister twenty
years; representative to General Court in 1862; in the
State Senate two years (1870-71); a director in the
Lowell and Nashua Railroad; president of the Schu-
bert Choral Union since its organization ; superin-
tendent of the cemeteries; on the Executive Commit-
tee of the village improvement, and prominent in his
activities for the home support of the Civil War. He
married Martha Taylor, daughter of Silas Taylor.
Universalists. — The following extracts from an
able sermon preached by Rev. I. C. Knowlton, D.D.,
at the dedication of the new meeting-house at South
Acton (1878) are given. In a recent note from Dr.
Knowlton he adds, " I send you the missing links in
your sketch of our folks in Acton. I spent much
time and labor in preparing the sermon from which
you copy; I cannot go over the ground again. I think
its statements are all correct."
The first Universalist sermons were preached in
Acton by Rev. Hosea Ballard as early as 1814 or 1815.
January 19, 1816, the first Universalist Society of
Acton was organized, consisting of eleven members.
In 1821 and 1822 Rev. Dr. Benjamin Whittemore
preached one-half the Sabbaths in Acton in halls,
school-houses and private residences.
January 27, 1821, the First Universalist Society of
Acton was legally incorporated. It consisted of fifty
paying members, two years after of sixty-one and
eventually of over eighty paying members.
December 17, 1833, a church of thirty-nine mem-
bers was formed a3 the result of the labors of Rev.
Joseph Wright, who, that year, "became pastor of this
October 4, 1834, the Boston Association of Univer-
salists met at Acton. During the next six years the
religious services were in the First Parish Church
and well attended.
June 29, 1836, Rev. Isaac Brown became the resi-
dent minister of the society and continued in this re-
lation three years.
July 4, 1837, Rev. Isaac Brown was formally in-
stalled a3 pastor of this church with appropriate ser-
In 1842 an attempt was made to resuscitate the
First Parish by uniting all the elements not affiliating
with the Evangelical Church. At about this time
there was a Methodist Church organized and there
was Methodist preaching for a few years.
About 1850 our interest there, at Acton Centre,
From 1850-58 there was no regular Universalist
preaching in Acton. In 1858 halls were provided in
South and West Acton, and Rev. J. M. Usher
preached in these two places for a period of six years.
The parishes in South Acton and West Acton, al-
though entirely separate, were started at the same
time and have always worked together in perfect har-
mony. The same pastors have officiated in each
place. Rev. J. M. Usher, an energetic and well-read
man, was really the founder of both.
After the retirement of Mr. Usher, in 1864, Rev.
Edwin Davis became pastor of both these societies
and continued until April, 1872; Rev. W. W. Har-
ward, three years ; Rev. N. P. Smith, oue year. Rev.
I. C. Knowlton, D.D., assumed his charge in October,
1875, fifteen years, and is still occupying the pulpits,
with acceptance, in his seventy-first year.
In 1868 the West Acton Society built, furnished
and paid for a very pretty and pleasant meeting-
house, which it has used and greatly enjoyed ever
In 1861 the South Acton Society moved into Ex-
change Hall, a large and handsome auditorium,
where it worshiped for seventeen years.
In the spring of 1876 a church of more than thirty
members was organized at West Acton. Present
number of members, about sixty in all.
On February 21, 1878, a handsome and completely
furnished church edifice was dedicated, with appro-
priate services, at South Acton.
Each parish, at the date of this writing, though de-
pleted by the removal of many of its young people to
city centres, is enjoying a fair state of prosperity.
Each meeting-house is pleasant and convenient, kept
in good repair and occupied every Sunday.
The Baptists. — The Baptist Church is located at
West Acton. It was organized July 10, 1846, with a
membership of twenty-three persons. The present
membership is over one hundred ; the average con-
gregations 200. The Sabbath-school has always been
a flourishing adjunct of the church, now numbering
one hundred and fifty. They have an attractive
meeting-house, located centrally in the village, with
all the modern contrivances to promote the interest
and profit of the worshipers. They have a large and
instructive library connected with the society, adapted
to give general culture as well as religious instruction-
The following is a list of the pastors and the length
of their pastorates: Rev. Horace Richardson, seven
years ; Rev. W. H. Watson, seven years ; Rev. Jacob
Tuck (2d), three years ; Rev. W. K. Davis, five years ;
Rev. J. C. Boomer, four years ; Rev. J. R. Haskins.
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Rev. C. L. Rhoades came to the West Acton Bap-
tist Church, as its pastor, from the Lexington Church.
He was a man of great enthusiasm, and during his
pastorate of four and one-half years his hands were
filled with work. He resigned in January, 1888, to
go to the Fourth Street Church, of South Boston.
Rev. Frank A. Heath came direct from Hamilton
Theological Seminary and was ordained June 7,1888.
He is now in the midst of his work, with able and
liberal assistants in active co-operation, and with
high hopes of a success in the future exceeding any
record of the past. Their first meeting-house, dedi-
cated July 19, 1847, was burned July 2, 1853 ; their
second meeting-house was dedicated September 19,
Daniel Wetherbee, Esq. (East Acton). — Few
men have held a more prominent position in Central
Middlesex. From his youth he was acknowledged
as a leader. His early education commenced and
was continued in the old tavern situated on the
"Great Road" from Fitchburg to Boston, of which
he became proprietor in later years. Wetherbee's
Tavern was known from the Canada line to our me-
tropolis, and was a temporary Mecca of drovers and
drivers of baggage-wagons for more than half a cen-
tury preceding the advent of railroads.
The small stream running through his ancestral
domains he at once improved and enlarged, till Weth-
erbee's Mills comprised one of the most important
points in the illustrated map of the county. Of
public life he had his full share. He was town clerk,
assessor and selectman for many years, and five years
a representative to the Legislature. He was largely
instrumental in establishing the State Prison at Con-
cord Junction. He became one of the originators of
the Lowell and Framingham Railroad, and a perma-
nent director. He married Clarissa Jones, daughter
of Abel Jones. He died July 6, 1883, aged sixty-
eight years, leaving a widow and seven children.
The American Powder - Mills. — These mills,
incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, having
their business office in Boston, are located in the
corner of four towns — Acton, Sudbury, Maynard and
Concord. They cover an area of 401 acres. The
capital is $300,000. The annual production is in the
range of $240,000.
These mills were started by Nathan Pratt, in 1835,
and they were run by him till 1864; then the prop-
erty was sold to the American Powder Company, and
that company was formed by the union of Massachu-
setts Powder-Mills, located at Barre, Mass., and in-
corporated under the name of the American Powder
They did a very successful business, and went out
of business in 1883, and were succeeded by the Amer-
ican Powder- Mills. About sixty men are employed
at the present time. They are doing a large and suc-
The patriotic emergencies of Acton have always
had at hand a bountiful supply of the very choicest
quality of powder, and at reasonable rates.
Soutii Agton. — Fifty years ago the principal
business at South Acton was done at the Faulkner
Saw and Grist-Mill.
The houses within a quarter of a mile of the depot
were those of the tavern, for many years the residence
of Aaron Jones; the house of Abel Jones, his son,
across the road opposite, on the hill, and that of Col.
Besides these there was a small school-house, a few
barns, cooper-shops, stables and out-buildings. Now
there are over a hundred pleasant residences, a num-
ber of mills, stores and factories, a fine church,
assembly hall, chapel, a commodious school-house,
large store structures, railroad facilities for traffic and
travel, and a village noted for its comfort and neigh-
borly and social culture.
Tattle, Jones & Wetherbee. — On the rise of ground
facing the Fitchburg Railway track stands the central
structure of the vicinity — the hub of trade for years
of this section of country. This firm is composed of
these gentlemen, in the order of their connection
with it : James Tuttle, Varnum Tuttle, sons of
Francis Tuttle, Esq.; Elnathan Jones, a grandson of
Aaron Jones, and J. K. W. Wetherbee, each marrying
sisteis of James and Varnum. No other than these
have ever been in the partnership. The present
name was adopted February 8, 1867, when Mr. Weth-
erbee was admitted. Mr. Jones joined about 1852,
and between these dates it was James Tuttle & Co.
From 1843 to 1852 it was J. & V. Tuttle. James
Tuttle began trade on his own account in 1839. A
year or so here and three at Acton Centre, and he
was ready to start with his brother at the South Vil-
lage, which had just been reached by a railroad from
Boston. Then the lower part of the building now
occupied by jeweler Baldwin was constructed, a single
story, with its basement, for the beginning of these
operations. The house of Mr. James Tuttle is to the
rear of this enlarged structure. These young men
of twenty-five and twenty-one started with good
pluck and with a will to succeed, but with little idea
of the possibilities of their future. The railroad
terminus was then at West Acton. All things seemed
at the time to favor that village. Long after they
started no little trade went past them to the prosper-
ous concern of Burbeck & Tenney. That was then
called Horse-power Village, and this nothing but Mill-
corner, where merged a half-dozen roads from Box-
boro', Acton Centre, Westford, Sudbury and Stow.
That was a stage, this only a saw and grist-mill
In a few years they wen the good start which is
half the battle.
In those early days they did a business of $25,000
per year. This gradually grew until it reached a
quarter of a million, with appliances to match the
growth. In 1850 they moved to their new store on
the site of the present grocery. This building con-
sisted of basement, a full story above and an attic
floor. Shed, carriage-house and barn stretched from
it back along the Concord pike.
James Tuttle has always been a shrewd and jolly
helmsman, and when he set his craft on these waters
he was bound to steer straight to the destined port.
This store was burned January 20, 18G6. Within a
year the restored building was ready for a new launch,
and it has floated safely on its way ever since.
The large dry-goods store on the hill was built in
1860. It is 70 by 38, and GO feet high, with a central
tower on front.
Exchange Hall, up three flights from the ground
at front, has been devoted to public uses from the
outset. The Universalists worshiped there until the
new church was occupied in February, 1878. Every
sort of gathering and entertainment has been held
within its walls. Its dances, socials, concerts, lec-
tures, campaign meetings, caucuses and conventions
have made it well and widely known.
The prosperity of the firm rests upon its equity,
Yankee sagacity and thrift. The gentlemen con-
nected with it, many and various, stand high in the
regard of their fellow-townsmen. The senior, Mr.
James Tuttle, has been selectman, assessor, overseer
of the poor, chairman of committee for building
school-house, church and other public buildings.
Mr. Jones has been prominent in town affairs. Mr.
Varnum Tuttle has been a stanch pillar of the
chapel enterprise. Mr. Wetherbee has been for fif-
teen years postmaster at Acton, town treasurer for
years, which office he still holds ; selectman for many
years, and trustee and executor of many private
J. W. Tuttle & Sons.— Mr. Joseph Warren Tuttle,
brother to Francis Tuttle, Esq., was the senior mem-
ber of this house, and lived in one of the finest man-
sions at South Acton. The business is a wholesale
commission. merchant's for the sale of all kinds of
country produce; office, No. 1(5 and 18 Clinton Street,
Boston. An honorable and successful career of forty-
five years has given the house a high standing in
the great thoroughfares of trade. The business was
founded in 1843 by J. W. Tuttle.
In 1848 Mr. George W. Tuttle was admitted to
partnership, in 1874 Charles Jones, in 1875 Charles
H. Tuttle, and 1883 Herbert A. Tuttle.
J. A. Bowen.— The shoddy enterprise at South
Acton, now in charge of Mr. Bowen, is one of import-
ance. The privilege and land were first obtained of
Abel Jones for a woolen-mill during the war, by S.
S. Richardson, by whom the first dam was erected.
The amount of the shoddy and extract productions
for a year is now estimated in the vicinity of $100,000
per year. The business has been profitable and em-
ploys over thirty hands. Mr. Bowen, the proprietor,
is a gentleman of quiet habits, of enfeebled health, yet
an intelligent, reputable and liberal citizen of the vil-
lage, whose enterprise in the successful management
of the interest, and whose generous contributions in
the way of public improvement are appreciated by
Charles Augustus Harrington. — He was born in
Shrewsbury, Worcester County, Mass., December 22,
1814, where he lived the first thirty years. He mar-
ried, May 81, 1866, Mary J. Faulkner, daughter of
Colonel Winthrop E. Faulkner. He came from Wis-
consin to Acton in 1867, and has resided in town
most of the time since. Though interested in public
affairs he has never sought or held official positions
of responsibility except to act as assessor for Acton
four years. He is an earnest Republican in politics
and liberal in his support of enterprises for the benefit
of the community. He has been largely instrumental
in giving to South Acton its new impetus towards a
prosperity exceeding all previous records. He built
his own elegant mansion which overlooks towards
the west, the Faulkner house and the water scenery
of the " Big Brook," and the fine mansion recently
built on the western and northern slopes of the vil-
lage; the retreating low-lands of the New England
settlement are also seen in the distance, with clusters
of comely dwelling-houses.
The thirty daily incoming and departing trains
which pass on the Fitchburg Railroad help the ef-
fectiveness of this panorama of beauty as seen from
the windows of Mr. Harrington's home. He has re-
built and enlarged the Faulkner Mills, put in an ice-
house, store-house, barn and an elevator for the flour
and grain business at an expense of $17,000. He re-
built the piano-stool factory which was burnt Novem-
ber 9, 1886, putting in steam at an expense of $10,000.
The estimated productions of this factory, run by Mr.
Chadwick, annually are $75,000, which are shipped
to all States east of the Mississippi and to Canada.
At the grain and flour-mills, now in charge of F. J.
Hastings & Hezzleton, a very heavy business is now
carried on. No place in this region has a more com-
plete stock for feed, fertilizing, garden seeds, farming
tools; flour comes in and goes out by the car-load.
It is the heaviest grain business between Waltham
and Fitchburg; estimated annual amount, $150,000.
The Acton Light Infantry was organized in
1805 and then consisted of forty-one members, includ-
ing officers. The following gentlemen previous to
1830 commanded this company: Paul Brooks, Simon
Hosmer, Abijah Hayward, Silas Jones, James Jones,
Aaron Hayward, Jonathan Hosmer, John Fletcher,
John Handley, Jr., Simon Davis, Abel Furbush,
George W. Tuttle and Thomas Brown.
The following is the list of town clerks : Thomas
Wheeler, 1735-36; Simont Hunt 1737-43; Jonathan
Hosmer, 1744-55; John Davis, Jr., 1756-57; Jona-
than Hosmer, 1758-61; Francis Faulkner, 1762-96;
Aaron Jones, 1797; John Edwards, 1798-99; David
Barnard, 1800-07; John Robbins, 1808-17; Joseph
Noyes, 1818; John Robbins, 1819-20; Joseph Noyes,
1821; Abraham Conant, 1822; Francis Tuttle, 1823-
27; Silas Jones, 1828; Stevens Hay ward, 1829; Fran-
cis Tuttle, 1830.
Deacon Ephraim Robbins and Asa Parlin, Esq.,
were of Carlisle when it was a district of Acton.
Captain Daniel Fletcher was chosen a delegate to
the convention in Boston, 22d September, 1768 ;
Francis Faulkner and Ephraim Hapgood to the Pro-
vincial Congress in Concord, October, 1774 ; Josiah
Hay ward to Cambridge, February, 1775, aud again in
May ; Francis Faulkner to the convention in Cam-
bridge, for forming the Constitution, September, 1779;
Captain Joseph Robbins to the convention in Con-
cord, to regulate the prices of articles of produce, etc.,
October, 1779; Simon Tuttle and Thomas Noyes to
Concord 23d of May, 1786; and Asa Parlin to the
convention in Boston in 1788, to ratify the Constitu-
tion of the United States.
Representatives.— Nathan Brooks, 1836, 1837,
1838, 1840; Phineas Harrington, 1841-42; Ivory
Keyes, 1843,1846; Daniel Wetherbee, 1844, 1845,
1848, 1853, 1857 ; Rev. James T. Woodbury, 1850-51 ;
Moses Hay ward, 1852; Joseph Noyes, 1854; Aaron
C. Handley, 1855, 1863; William D. Tuttle, 1856;
John Fletcher, ' 1861 ; Luther Conant, 1866, 1886;
George W. Gates, 1870 ; George C. Wright, 1873 ;
Moses Taylor, 1881; Charles Wesley Parker, 1884;
Aaron C. Handley, 1889; Daniel Fletcher, 1768;
Josiah Hay ward, 1774-75 ; Mark White, 1776 ; Simon
Hunt, 1780; Francis Faulkner, 1782, 1785 ; Thomas
Noyes, 1787, 1789; Ephraim Robbins, 1790; Jonas
Brooks, 1791, 1802; Asa Parlin, 1803; Jonas Brooks,
1804; Samuel Jones, 1805-06 ; Jonas Brooks, 1807-11 ;
Stevens Hay ward, 1812; Joseph Noyes, 1813-18;
Joseph Noyes, 1821; Francis Tuttle, 1823-27;
Steven Hay ward, 1828-29; Francis Tuttle, 1830-31.
Forty-four years during the ninety-five since incor-
poration the town was not represented in the General
Senators. — Stevens Hayward, 1844, 1845; Win-
throp E. Faulkner, 1853, 1854; John Fletcher, 1870,
Town Clerks.— Francis Tuttle, Esq., 1830-32,
1834, 1835 ; Silas Jones, 1832-33; J. W. Tuttle, 1836,
1838; Daniel Wetherbee, 1839-54; William D. Tut-
Graduates of College. — Nathan Davis, son of
Samuel Davis, born November 30, 1737 ; graduated at
Harvard College 1759 ; ordained minister at Dracut
20th November, 1765; dismissed in 1785; removed to
Boston and was appointed chaplain at Fort Indepen-
dence, and a review officer; died March 4,1803,
John Swiff, born November 18, 1741 ; graduated in
1762; settled as a physician in Acton ; died in 1775.
Asa Piper, son of Josiah Piper; graduated in 1778,
and was crdained at Wakefield, New Hampshire,
1785; was a retired pastor in that place after leaving
his pastoral charge.
Solomon Adams, son of Lieutenant John Adams ;
born March 18, 1761; graduated in 1788; ordained
pastor at Middleton, October 23, 1793; died Septem-
ber, 1813, aged 53.
Daniel Brooks, graduated in 1794 ; settled as a
trader in Westmoreland, where he held the office of
justice of the peace ; died at Springfield, Vermont.
Thomas Noyes, son of Thomas Noyes, born Febru-
ary 5, 1769; graduated in 1795; ordained pastor of
Second Church in Needham, July 10, 1799; dis-
missed in 1833, after a faithful discharge of his
official duties thirty-four years. To his clerical
brethren he set an example of diligence, punctuality
and perseverance. As a preacher he was respectable,
grave and sincere, practical rather than doctrinal. He
brought beaten oil into the sanctuary. He was a de-
scendant of the Puritans and a consistent Congrega-
Luther Wright, born April 19, 1770 ; graduated in
1796 ; ordained pastor of the First Parish in Med-
way, June 13, 1798 ; dismissed September, 1815 ; in-
stalled at Barrington, Rhode Island, January 29,
1817 ; dismissed July 5, 1821 ; he resided at Holliston
Moses Adams, son of Rev. Moses Adams; born
November 28, 1777 ; graduated in 1797 ; settled as a
physician in Ellsworth, Maine, and was sheriff of the
county of Lincoln.
William Emerson Faulkner, son of Franc's Faulk-
ner, Esq. ; born October 23, 1776 ; graduated 1797 ;
read law with his brother-in-law, the Hon. Jabez
Up ham, of Brookfield, with whom he formed a part-
nership in business; he died October 1,1804, aged
28, and left a most worthy character.
Josiah Adams, son of the Rev. Moses Adams ; born
November 3, 1781 ; graduated in 1801 ; read law with
Thomas Heald, Esq. ; was admitted to the bar, June,
1807, and settled in Framingham. He delivered the
Centennial address in 1835.
Luther Faulkner, son of Francis Faulkner ; born
May 7, 1779 ; graduated in 1802; was a merchant in
Jonathan Edwards Scott, a native of Nova Scotia;
a resident in Acton before he entered college ; grad-
uated in 1802 ; commanded a vessel at sea.
Joseph Adams, sou of Rev. Moses Adams; born
September 25, 1783; graduated in 1803; settled as
an attorney in West Cambridge ; died June 10, 1814.
John Buggies Cutting, son of Wihiam Cutting;
graduated at Dartmouth College, 1802; ordained at
Waldoborough, Maine, August, 1807; dismissed
March, 1812, and was afterwards a teacher of youth.
Henry Durant graduated at Yale College, 1828; was
a tutor in Yale ; all these, excepting the two first and
the last, were prepared for college under Rev. Mr.
Bee. James Fletcher.— He was born in Acton, Septem-
ber 5, 1823, and was the son of Deacon John and
Clarissa Jones Fletcher. He fitted for college at
Leicester Academy, Massachusetts, and New Ipswich
Academy, New Hampshire. He graduated at Dart-
mouth College in 1843, at Andover Theological Sem-
inary in 184G, and was a resident licentiate a year ;
pastor of the Maple Street Congregational Church,
Danvers, fifteen years ; principal of the Holten High
School, Danvers, five years ; of Lawrerice Academy,
Groton, six years ; of Burr and Burton Seminary,
Manchester, Vt., three years. He has taught forty-
nine terms in all ; been committeeman eighteen
years and superintendent of schools six years. He
married in Andover, Mass., October 10, 1849, Lydia
Middleton, daughter of Rev. Henry Woodward, mis-
sionary to Ceylon, granddaughter of Prof. Bezaleel
Woodward, of Dartmouth College, and adopted
daughter of Hon. Samuel Fletcher, late of Concord,
George O. Parker. — He was born in Acton, June 19,
1826. He was the oldest son of Asa Parker and Ann
Margaret (McCaristone) Parker. He fitted for college
at Lawrence Academy, Groton, and Appleton Acad-
emy, New Ipswich, N. H. He taught school in Ac-
ton and elsewhere. He graduated from Union College,
New York, in 1852 ; studied law at the Albany Law
School, New York, and was admitted to the bar of
In 1856 he settled in Milford, Mass., and was ad-
mitted to the Worcester Co. bar, where he has since
practiced. For many years he has been chairman of
the Board of School Committee of Milford, senior
warden of the Trinity Episcopal Church, Milford.
In politics he was a Republican, but joined the Gree-
ley party in 1872, was a member of the Cincinnati
Convention of that year, and represented the Demo-
cratic party in the Legislature in 1876. December
26, 1854, he married the eldest daughter of Rev.
James T. Woodbury, Augusta. Their child, Marga-
ret Augusta, died at Milford in 1861.
William M. Parker, M.D. — He was born in Acton,
June 15, 1828, son of Asa Parker and Ann Margaret
(McCaristone) Parker. He acquired a thorough aca-
demical education, and entered the Berkshire Medical
Institution at Pittsfield, and graduated in 1853. He
practiced in Shutesbury about five years. He there
served as a member of the School Committee. From
1856 to 1860 he was surgeon of the Tenth Regiment
of Massachusetts militia. In 1858 he removed to
Milford, and there followed his profession till his
death, March 1, 1883. He was a member of the
Massachusetts Medical Society and of the Massachu-
setts Medico-Legal Society, and at the time of his
decease was State Medical Examiner in Worcester
County. He was married June 25, 1872, to Miss
Emma T. Day, whose death preceded his own by
about six months. He left his only child, Lillian
Blanche, to Mr. and Mrs. George G. Parker, by whom
she was adopted. The Milford historian, Mr. Ballou,
speaks of his social standing as being in accord with
the doctor's eminence as a physician and citizen.
Hon. Henry L. Parker. — He «was born in Acton.
He was the son of Asa Parker and Ann Margaret
(McCaristone) Parker. He graduated at Dartmouth
College in 1856. He was admitted to the bar of
Worcester County in 1859, and commenced the prac-
tice of law at Hopkinton, Mass., and was trial justice
for about three years ; removed to Worcester in 1865,
where he has been in practice since.
In 1886 and 1887 he was representative to the Gen-
eral Court from Worcester. In 1886 he was a mem-
ber of Committee on Probate and on Drainage. In
1887 he was chairman of Committee on Probate. In
1889 and 1890 he was Senator from the First Wor-
cester Senatorial District. In 1889 he was member
of Judiciary Committee and chairman of Public Ser- *
vice. In 1890 he was appointed chairman of the fol-
lowing Committees: Judiciary, Rules, Election Laws
and Special Elections. In Worcester was six years
a member of the School Board. For the past two
years he has been president of the Worcester County
Horticultural Society and senior warden of St.
Mark's Episcopal Church, also member of the Board
of Associated Charities.
Rev. Ephraim Hapgood, son of John and Clara
Hapgood, graduated at Brown University in 1874,
pursued theological studies at Newton Theological
Seminary ; was settled in Seward City, Nebraska.
Rev. Josiah W. Brown graduated at Dartmouth and
Andover Theological Seminary.
Edward F. Sherman. — Born at Southeast Acton,
graduated at Dartmouth College in 1843, and prac-
ticed law in Lowell. The miils at Southeast Acton
called the Sherman Mills.
Luther Jones, M.D. — He was the son of Silas Jones,
and graduated at Dartmouth College in 1841.
Eben H. Davis. — He was born in Acton, 1840. He
was the son of Eben Davis. He graduated at Kim-
ball Union Academy in 1857, and at Dartmouth Col-
lege in 1861. He took a course at the Harvard Law
School, and then entered upon his life-work, that of
teaching. He was principal of the Belmont High
School, and was then elected, in 1869, superintendent
of the schools in Nashua, N. H., where he remained
a year and a half, when he resigned and became the
superintendent of the schools in Woburn, which
position he held for thirteen years, and has been
superintendent of the schools in Chelsea six years.
He has made a specialty of primary methods in teach-
ing, has written for educational magazines, both in
the South and in the Northeast, has lectured in several
States at Institutes, and is now editing a series of
readers, in behalf of the Lippincott Publishers.
Julian A. Mead, M.D. — 'He was born in Acton ; the
son of Oliver W. Mead. He was fitted for college at
Exeter, ' N. H ; graduated at Harvard College and
Harvard Medical School : studied over two years in
the medical schools and colleges of Europe, and is now
in active practice in Watertown, Mass.
George Herman Tuttle, son of George Tuttle ; pre-
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
pared for college at Concord High School ; gradu-
ated at Harvard, 1887 ; has been one year at the Med-
ical University of Pennsylvania ; one year at Harvard
Frederick Brooks Koyes, son of T. Frederick Noye3,
has graduated from Andover Theological Seminary,
and nearly completed his course at Harvard Univer-
Physicians. — Dr. John Swift, son of the minister,
was the first physician.
Dr. Abraham Skinner was from Woodstock, Conn.,
and commenced practice in Acton in 1781, where he
died, April 16, 1810, aged 53. He married Sarah,
daughter of Francis Faulkner, Esq., 1788.
Dr. Peter Goodnow was from Bolton ; commenced
practice in Acton 12th October, 1812 ; left February
18, 1827, and was afterwards a merchant in Boston.
Dr. Bela Gardner resided here from 1823 to 1828 ;
removed to Vermont.
Dr. Harris Cowdry, born at South Reading ; grad-
uated at the Berkshire Medical Institution, 1824 ;
commenced practice in October, 1826.
Paul C. Kitfridge, from Littleton, commenced prac-
tice in Acton August 30, 1830.
Harris Cowdry, M.D., was born at South Reading
(now Wakefield), Mass., September 23, 1803. He
studied with Dr. Hunt, of that place, and graduated
at the Berkshire Medical School, Pittsfield, Mass.
At eighteen he applied himself to the vocation of a
nurse, and in this work he acquired a taste for the
medical profession. He entered upon this pursuit
with the greatest enthusiasm. He grappled bravely
with the obstacles that met him at the outset of his
profession, and soon took a front rank.
In choosing a field for practice, several places were
in mind. The fruits which abounded in Acton, even
at that early date, attracted his notice, and here he
determined to locate. Possibly, other attractions may
have helped his decision, for, in due time, he found a
helpful companion in Miss Abigail Davis, daughter
of Eben Davis, a native of Acton. Here he practiced
his profession for nearly half a century — nearly the
average life of two generations.
The country in Acton and the adjacent towns is
but sparsely populated, and his rides were long and
As a physician he was faithful and conscientious
to all — both rich and poor. With the latter he was
attentive and sympathizing, and in his charges leni-
ent. The case of each patient he made an especial
study. He was continually gathering up improved
methods of practice from medical works and from
the experience of friends, not allowing his mind to
run in ruts.
As a general practitioner he excelled. Others in
the profession may have been his superiors in some
special branches, but for the varied work to which he
was called, few have been hu equals. As he entered
the sick-room he brought a cheerful countenance and
a happy style of conversation, inspiring confidence,
both in the patient and attendants. He was fond of
children, and apt in discovering and treating their
He was an early member of the Evangelical Church
of Acton, and its firm supporter to the end. He was
a reformer, zealous in the cause of temperance and
He was interested in education ; a superintendent
of the schools sixteen years, and chairman of the
School Committee at the time of his death. He was
fond of music, and, however pressing his professional
cares, seldom was he missed from the village choir,
seldom even from the rehearsal.
He was an ardent patriot. As a specimen of the
man at the outbreak of the Rebellion, his letter to
Captain Daniel Tuttle, dated May 1, 1861, is here
" You can't tell what an anxious night we spent
after the telegraph had flashed it up to South Acton
that the Sixth Regiment had been attacked in Balti-
more. We are proud of you, and, more than that,
we are glad the friends of freedom the world over
know of your noble bearing.
" We know if the South don't back down, and there
comes a fight, the Davis Guards will do their duty
bravely and well.
"If prayers and tears can help you, be assured you
have them all. You never saw such a town-meeting
as we had last Saturday. We are ready to do any-
thing for the soldiers."
He was one of those few men who never grow old.
He was in his seventy-third year during that last
winter campaign. His locks were silvery, but his
step was elastic, his eyes flashed with the fire of early
manhood, and he dashed through the streets, on his
way to the sick, whether the call came by day or
night, in sunshine or storm.
He died, as he wished, with the harness on. That
Centennial Day at old Concord, April 19, 1875, was
too much for him. The severity of that raw, chilly
day gave him a fatal attack of influenza, from which
he died, after a short but painful sickness, May 6th.
More died from the exposures of that day than
from the original 19th, a hundred years before, and
Dr. Cowdry was one of these patriotic martyrs.
He had two children : Arthur H. Cowdry, a suc-
cessful physician in Stoneham, Mass.; Mrs. Helen
Little, widow of Charles Little, M.D., whose active
professional life began in Acton in 1866, and his mar-
riage to Dr. Cowdry's only daughter soon after, and
his death at the age of thirty-thiee, after a promising
but brief professional career.
Charles Little, M.D. — Dr. Little was born in Bos-
cawen, N. H. ; graduated at Dartmouth College in
1860, and received his medical degree in the same in-
stitution in 1863; died November 16, 1869, thirty-two
years old. During the same autumn he entered the
navy as assistant surgeon, where he remained until
DR. HARRIS COWDRY.
the close of the war. Unwilling to enter upon a
private practice without a more thorough preparation
for his work, he passed the winter of 1865-66 at the
College of Physicians and Surgeons, and at the hos-
pital in New York. He commenced his active pro-
fessional life at Acton in the spring of 1866, and soon
after married the only daughter of Dr. Harris Cowdry,
Dr. Little was a good classical scholar, and had an
excellent knowledge of the minutia? of his profession.
His practical career, though short, was long enough
to give him a place in the confidence of the people,
and betoken a useful and successful career. He was
modest in his manners, but outspoken for the right.
In the home circle he was be9t appreciated. He was
a genial husband, brother and friend. His end was
peaceful and like a summer's cloud.
John M. Miles, M.D. — He was bom in Temple,
N. H. His father was a minister in Temple for sev-
eral years, where he died. He married a daughter of
Josiah Taylor, of Temple. He was educated at a
medical college. He practiced in Boxboro' and Lit-
tleton and settled in Acton in 1843, and practiced
here until his death, March 22, 1865, aged sixty-three
years and five months.
Isaiah Hutchins, M.D. — He was born in Westford,
Middlesex County, Mass., September 23, 1829 ; lived
on his father's farm in Groton till eighteen years of
age. His education was in the public schools and
Lawrence Academy at Groton. He entered the office
of Dr. Walter Burnham, of Lowell, as a student in
the study of medicine, and graduated from the Wor-
cester Medical Cdllege in 1852, and the same year
began the practice of medicine at West Acton, and
for most of the time since has continued in it at the
He was in the Union army during the nine months'
campaign, acting assistant surgeon most of the time
in the same regiment, Sixth Massachusetts, during 100
days' campaign as second lieutenant Company E. He
married a daughter of Alden Fuller, West Acton.
Charles Barton Sanders, M.D., born in Lowell,
Mass., February 19, 1844. He received his early edu-
cation in the common school at Berwick, Me., and at
Berwick Academy, South Berwick, Me. Enlisted as
private August 11, 1862, in Rollingsford, N. H.,
and served with the Thirteenth New Hampshire
Volunteers (being promoted to corporal) until
March 1, 1864, when he was discharged by orders
of the War Department to receive commission as
first lieutenant in the United States colored troops,
and was assigned to the Thirtieth Regiment;
was through the Wilderness campaign and was
taken prisoner July 30, 1864, at the battle of
" Crater," front of Petersburg, and was confined in a
rebel prison at Columbia, S. C, seven months. Mus-
tered out of service December 10, 1865, having served
as adjutant of regiment from 1st of June, 1865. Re-
ceived medical education at Harvard and Bowdoin
June 1, 1869. His early years of practice were in
Lowell. In July, 1875, he located at Acton Centre.
September 4, 1878, he married Elizabeth Taylor,
daughter of Moses Taylor, Esq.
Lawyers. — Samuel Jones, Esq., resided here as an
attorney in 1805-06, but left the town and died in the
Ferdinand Adolphus Wyman, Esq. — He was born in
Waltham, Mass., December 28, 1850. He is a prac-
ticing lawyer, resident in Hyde Park, which place he
represents for the second term in the Massachusetts
Legislature. He was educated in the schools of West
Acton. He was assignee of T. Shaw & Brothers, the
extensive leather manufacturers, and as assignee or
trustee ha9 settled other large estates. He was ad-
mitted to the Suffolk bar in 1886. He is a member of
the House Committee on Railroads.
A. A. Wyman, Esq. — Mr. Wyman's full name is
Alphonso Adelbert Wyman ; he was born in West
Acton January 29, 1862. He was educated in the
common schools of Acton and Lawrence Academy,
Groton ; he entered Phillips Exeter Academy,
1875 ; graduated at the head of his class of thirty in
1879. He was president of the Golden Brand, a
literary society founded in 1817. He was managing
editor of the Exonian, a school paper, and he was
class historian by unanimous choice of his class. In
1879 he entered Harvard College, from which he
graduated with honors in 1883. He was one of
twenty-five in a class of 200 elected to the Phi Beta
Kappa, holding the highest rank in scholarship. In
December, 1883, he began the study of law in the of-
fice of Henry W. Paine and William Varen Vaughan,
20 Washington Street, Boston, and was admitted to
the Suffolk bar in June, 1885, since which time he
has been engaged in the practice of his profession in
Boston and West Acton. On July 28, 1886, he was
married to Laura Aldrich, and his residence has been
in West Acton.
Francis C. Nash, Esq., a native of Maine, gradu-
ated at Tufts College, 1863 ; admitted to practice in
Maine in 1866, and was in active practice in the
Maine courts for several years. He opened an office
in Boston (54 Devonshire Street) in 1880, residing at
West Acton, at the homestead of Mr. John Hapgood,
whose daughter Clara he married. He has been on
Board of School Committee as chairman and superin-
tendent of schools in Acton, and held other positions
Mrs. Clara Hapgood Nash, daughter of John and
Clara Hapgood, was admitted to practice before the
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, October, 1872. She
was the first lady admitted to the practice of the
court, in which she was for several years in co-
partnership with her husband. She was, before her
law practice, a teacher in public schools, was for a time
an assistant principal of the Danvers High School.
Charles B. Stone, Esq. — He was admitted to the
Suffolk bar February, 1890.
From Shattuck's History of Concord. — A
post-office was established in 1828, and Silas Jones,
Esq., was postmaster.
In 1826 the aggregate time of keeping schools was
28 months, attended by 412 pupils, (227 males, 185 fe-
males) ; 139 under 7 years, 160 from 7-14 and 113 from
In 1825 there were 2 carding-machines, 2 fulling-
mills and 4 saw-mills ; valuation, $862,928.
Barrels were the staple production of the town, 20,
000 estimated as the annual production.
The population in 1764 was 611 ; in 1790, including
Carlisle, 853 ; in 1800, 901 ; in 1810, 885 ; in 1820, 1047;
in 1830, 1128.
In 1821 there were 140 dwelling-houses, 230 other
buildings, 513 acres of tillage land on which were
raised 705 bushels of rye, 932 of oats, 5833 of corn,
75 of barley, 140 of beans; 1527 acres of mowing
land, producing 956 tons of hay ; 2026 acres of pas-
turing, keeping 939 cows, 196 oxen ; 2055 acres of
wood, 3633 acres of unimproved, and 1311 unimprov-
able ; 240 used as roads and 500 covered with water.
It then had 3 grist-mills.
Miscellanies. — The dark day, so called, was May
19, 1780. Joseph Chaffin died in 1836, eighty-four
years of age. Solomon Smith, the father of Luke,
died July 25, 1837, aged eighty-four. One hundred
and thirty-two dwelling-houses in South Acton in a
range of a mile from the centre of the village ; 109
in West Acton ; 60 in the centre. Seventy thousand
barrels of apples are shipped from West Acton per
year. Between eight and nine thousand barrels are
raised within a mile of Acton Centre and of the
choicest quality and variety.
Quarry Works in North Acton. — This enter-
prise has opened under the management of David C.
Harris and John Sullivan, with encouraging pros-
pects. They already do an extensive business, send-
ing their granite as far west as Nebraska, and as far
south aa Pennsylvania. The granite has a peculiar
merit in its tint, fineness of grain and durability, and
gives a growing satisfaction to those who have tried
It most resembles what is known as the Concord,
N. H., granite, though in some respects it is thought
to be superior to that.
The granite has been known for quite a number of
A part of the monument at Lexington came from
this quarry, and was drawn by oxen.
The Great Blow — It came Sept. 23, 1815. From
"Our First Century," byR. M. Devens, in the article
relating to the gale, is the following statement:
"In the little town of Acton the damage amounted
to forty thousand dollars.
" This gale was severe at the Centre, blowing down
several of the horse sheds around the meeting-house.
It came from east and weut to the west. It was es-
pecially severe among the forests on Myers hill oppo-
site the residence of Charles Bobbins, in the east part
of the town. It is remembered by several now living,
and they have never forgotten the scene of falling
The area of Acton is 12,795 acres. Its valuation in
1886, $1,286,089. Its population by the last State
Census in 1885 was 1785 ; dwelling-houses, 413. The
number of children between the ages of 5 and 15 in
1889 was 267. In 1885 there were 190 farms, the pro-
duct of which was $209,533. The product of the
dairies, $77,065. Hay, straw and fodder, $50,132.
Vegetables, $19,417 ; 29,756 fruit trees, 1467 neat
cattle, 240 horses. Aggregate of goods in 1885, $332,
345. Valuation in 1888, $1,310,947. School property,
$22,600. Two thousand volumes in the West Acton
libraries ; 4000 volumes in William A. Wilde's Me-
morial Library. The general healihfulness of the
climate is well established by the records of the past.
Fatal epidemics have been rare. Seldom have the
years been marked with prevailing sickness.
The average longevity for the last 26 years includ-
ing those dying in infancy, has been 44 years and 6
months. This may be taken as an approximate aver-
age for the entire history of the town. Longevity has
always been a feature of the locality.
During these 26 years the average number of deaths
in town has been 30; the total, 789. Those reaching
60 years, 289; those reaching 70 years, 211; those
reaching 80 years, 98 ; those reaching 90 years, 14.
The highest age reported is that of Mrs. Mehitable
Piper, 101 years and 2 months, March 25, 1872. She
was the wife of Silas Piper.
From Shattuck's " History " we learn that during the
twenty years subsequent to 1800 there were published
208 intentions of marriages, and there occurred 161
marriages, 344 birtli3, 302 deaths, of whom 72 died
under one year old, 32 were 80 and upwards, 8 were
90 and upwards and one lived 99J. The average
number annually was 15, about one in 70 of the whole
population. The mean average age was 35.
Longevity. — The causes explaining this longevity
are not obscure. They may be found in the frugal
habits of the people. ; in the tonic air of the hills ; in
the pure water of the springs ; in the excellent drain-
age of the low lands, by means of running brooks and
larger streams; in the variety of the soil, fertile
enough to encourage a diligent culture; in the land-
scapes ever present and ever shifting to accommodate
the moods of the resting or laborious hours ; in the
vicinage of the ocean, near enough to enjoy its cool-
ing baths in the heat of summer, and distant enough
to escape the extreme chill of the more vigorous
DEATHS OF THE OLDEST PERSONS.
Benjamin Brabrook, April 27, 1714; James Brabrook, died at Nova
Scotia, Fort Lawrence, May 8, 1750 ; Samuel Brabrook, died at Reuisford
Island, July 14, 1766 ; Francis Baker, 1816 ; Isaac Davis, Sr., 1740 ; Jolin
Davis, died in Littleton, Oct. 6, 1763 ; Ebeuezer Davis, died March 5,
1755; John Edwards, died Sept, 25, 1760 ; Nathaniel Edwards, April 0th,
about 1800, 8li years old; Dea. Joseph Fletcher, Sept. 1,1746; Animi
Faulkner, Aug. 4, 175G, 04 years ; Jonathan Hosmer, Jr., Oct. 1, 1777 ;
Ephraini Hapgood and Nathaniel, lost in a vessel at sea coining home
from Maine, Nov. 1, 1780; Samuel Jones, Nov. 29, 1796; l'liineas Os-
good, on Daniel Tuttle place, Dec. 27, 1752; Samuel Prescott, July 25,
1758 ; George liohbius, July 24, 1747; Nathan Bobbins, June 7, 1764;
Thomas Smith, Slay 10, 17T.8 ; David Stimson, Sept. 25, 1740; Daniel
Shepherd, Sept. 15, 1785 ; William Thomas, Sept. 20, 1790 ; Joseph
Wheeler, June 27, 1750 ; Ensign Mark White, Oct. 5, 1758; Abraham
Wood, Feb. 20, 1760 ; Jacob Wood, March 7, 1769 ; Hezekiah Wheeler,
May 5, 1750, supposed to be grandfather to Josiah D. Wheeler; Joseph
Wooley, June 24, 1787 ; 1823, James Billings, on Perkins' place, 74
years; 1824, John White, 64; David Forbusb, May 19, 1803, 85;
Titus Law, Feb. 10, 1801, 84 ; Dorothy Bobbins, widow of Nathan, July
9, 1802, 93; Joseph Piper, Dec. 19, 1802, 85 ; Sarah, widow of Samuel
Jones, Dec. 29, 1802,80; Simeon Hay ward, June 5, 1803, 48; Lieut.
John Adams, Oct. 30, 1803, 87 ; Stephen Law, Nov. 7, 1784, 77 ; Francis
Faulkner, Esq., 77, Aug. 5, 1805 ; Widow Sarah Cutting, Dec. 25, 1805,
97; Lucy Hunt, wife of Dea. Simon, March 31, 1808,71, ; Esther Piper,
■widow of Joseph Piper, April 27, 1810, 85 ; Catharine Davis, widow of
Simon, Jan. 3, 1810, 81 ; Dr. Abraham Skinner, April 17, 1810, 54 ;
Lieutenant John Heald, Oct., 1810, 90; Thomas Wheeler, Nov. 17,
1810, 65 ; Ephraini Hosmer, Nov. 17, 1811, 89 ; Rebecca Faulkner,
widow of Francis, Esq., 76, April 3, 1812 ; Deacou Joseph Brabrook,
April 28, 1812, 73 ; 1813, Phillip Bobbins, Feb. 6, 73 ; 1813 Samuel
Wright, March 2, 87 ; 1813, Captain Joseph Brown, Aug. 9, 61 ;
1813, Boger V\ heeler, Dec. 30, 77 ; 1814, Lieut. Simon Tuttle, April 21,
80 ; 1814, Lieut. Henry Duraut, May 0, 40 ; 1814, Capt. Zedekiah Smith,
in the Army, May 13, 45 ; 1814, Silas Brooks, Aug. 11, 68 ; 1814, John
Harris, Nov. 20, 80 ; 1815, David Davis, Sept. 16, 72 ; 1816, John Hunt,
April 4,78; 1816, John Shepherd, May 27, 04; 1800, Capt. JoBeph
Bobbins, March 31 ; 1816, Capt. Daniel Davis, Dec. 7, 07; 1817, Samuel
Wheeler, April 5, 82; 1817, Capt. Stevens Hayward, Oct. 6, 66 ; 1817,
John Hundley, Dec. 12, 81 ; 1819, Benjamin Wild, in Boston, Aug. 2,
56; 1819, Thomas Law, March 20, 78; 1819, Abraham Hapgood, April
6, 66; 1820, Ezekiel Davis, Feb., 68; 1820, Dea. Simon Hunt, April 28,
86; 1820, Oliver Jones, Aug. 11, 82; 1820, Daniel Brooks, Aug. 25, 82;
1821, Joseph Barker, April 12, 99; 1821, Nathaniel Faulkner, July 2,
85 ; 1821, John Robbius, Dec. 31st, 00; 1821, Dea. John Wheeler, 56 ;
1822, Josiah Bright, 63; 1822, Jonathan Hosuier, July 10, 87; 1822,
Smith Foster, 67 ; James Marsh, 71; 1822, Lieut. Thomas Noyes, Nov.
19, 82 ; 1824, Joseph Brooks, 74; 1824, David Barnard, 64 ; 1824, Samuel
Hayward, 82 ; 1824, Jonathan Billings, died in Concord, 85 ; 1824, John
Wheeler, 64; 1825, Stephen Chaffin, 65 ; 1825, Jonas Brooks, 78 ; 1825,
Joel Willis, 44; 1826, Samuel Temple, 74; 1827, Benjamin Brabrook,
85 ; 1827, Israel Bobbins, 82 ; 1827, Samuel Parliu, 80 ; 1827, Quartis the
colored man, 61 ; 1827, William Eeed, 85 ; 1828, Ephraini Forbush, 72;
1828, Nathan Wheeler, 57 ; 1828, Robert Chaffin, 76 ; 1829, Nathan
Brooks, 56 ; 1829, John Lamson, 89 ; 1829, John Hunt, 01 ; 1829, Theo-
dore Wheeler, 52 ; 1830, Joel Hosmer, 60 ; 1830, Beuben Davis, 76 ; 1831,
Seth Brooks, 91 ; 1831, Calvin Houghton, 78 ; 1831, Joseph Barker, 87 ;
1831, John Reed, 73 ; 1831, James Fletcher, 43 ; 1832, Elias Chaffin,
77 ; 1832, Jonathan Davis, 80 ; 1832, Elijah Davis, 82 ; 1832, John Hay-
vaid, 69; 1833, Thomas F. Lawrence, 52; 1833, Daniel Holden, 60;
1833, Abel Couant, 87 ; 1834, William Cutting, 80 ; 1834, Ephraini Bil-
lings, 83; 1834, Aaron Hayward, 48; 1834, John Faulkner, 73; 1835,
Capt. Seth Brooks, 91 ; 1S35, Moses Fletcher, 50 ; 1835, Lemuel Dole,
54; 1836, John D. Robbius, 58; 1836, Jonathan Fletcher, 64 ; 1836,
Aaron Jones, 82 ; 1836, Joseph Chaffin, 84; 1836, John Robbins, Esq.,
74; 1836, Daniel Taylor, 65; 1836, Luther Wright ; 1837, Moses
Woods, 87 ; 1837, Solomon Smith, 84 ; 1837, Amos Noyes, 72 ; 1838,
Deacon Phineas Wheeler, 05; 1838, Ebeuezer Barker, 73 ; 1838, Silas
Piper; 1838, Benjamin Hayward ; 1839, Nathaniel Faulkner, 73; 1839,
David Barnard, 45 ; 1839, Peter Fletcher ; 18.(9, Jonathan Powers; 1840,
Capt. John Handley, 54 ; 184(1, Simon Hosmer; 1840, Daniel F. Barker ;
1810, John Oliver ; 1841, Jonathan Billings, the clock maker, 64 ; 1841,
Reuben Wheeler; 1841, Joseph B. Chamberlain ; 1811, Daniel White ;
1841, Ephraini Brooks; 1841, Peter Haynes ; 1841, Hannah Leighton,
92; 1842, Jonas Wood ; 1842, Abel Proctor, 87; 1842, John Wheeler;
1843, Paul Conant; 1844, Luther Robbins, 41; 1844, Samuel Hand-
ley; 1844, William Stearns; 1845, Moses Faulkner; 1846, Animi F.
Adams, 79; 1846, Charles Handley, 87; 1846, William Reed, 68; 1847,
Danforth Law, 44; 1847, Amos Handley, 75; 1847, John Chaffin, 68;
1848, Samuel Hosmer, 86, Revolutionary soldier; 1828, Amos Law, 61 ;
1848, John S. Fletcher, 67 ; 1848, Ebeuezer Robbins, 60 ; 1848, Jonathan
Wheeler, 61 ; 1849, Ephraini Hapgood, 67 ; 1819, Allen Richardson, 63 ;
1849, Nathaniel Stearns, 61; 1849, Joseph Barker, 74; 1849, Thomas
Thorp, 94; 1850, Joseph Brown, 44: 1851, Nathaniel G. Brown, 70;
1851, Nathan Wright, 60; 1851, Ebenezer Davis, 74; 1852, Tilly Rob-
bins, 79; 1852, SilaB Holden, 58; 1853, Daniel Wetherbee, father of
Piiineas, 66 ; 1853, Daniel Barker, 79 ; 1854, Nathan D. Hosmer, 83 ;
18o4, Joseph Harris, father of Daniel, 85; 1854, Henry Woods, 79;
1855, Ebenezer Barker, 53 ; 1855, Jonathan Barker, 78 ; 1855, Asa Par-
ker, 63 ; 1855, Luther B. Jones, 67 ; 1856, Dr. Charles Tuttle, 87 ; 18 T 6,
Abijah Oliver, 86 ; 1856, Ebenezer Smith, 81 ; 1856, John Handley,
father of David M., 93; 1856, Solomon Smith, 61 ; 1858, Beuben Bar-
ker, 72; 1859, Paltiah Brooks, 77; 1859, Eli Faulkner, 79; 1859. Silas
Piper, 67; 1860, Francis Piper, son of Josiah, 80; 1860, Dea. John
White, 75; 1861, Silas Jones, 74; 1861, Edward Wetherbee, 79; 1861,
Jedidiah Tuttle, 67; 1861, Abraham Conant, 77; 1862, Cyrus Wheeler,
59; 1802, Joel Oliver, 84 ; 1863, John Harris, 88; 1863, Joseph Bra-
brook, 83; 1863, Reuben Wheeler, Josiah D.'s father, 81; 1863, Joel
Conant, 75; 1863, Abel Bobbins, 71; 1864, Simon Tuttle, 71; 1861,
James Keyes, 89 ; 1864, William Beed, father of Moses' father, 83 ;
1865, Dr. John M. Miles, 63 ; 1865, George W. Robbins, son of Philip,
84; 1865,CharleB Robbins, 79; 1866, Lulher Conant, 80; 1867, Ivory
Keyes, 62 ; 1868, Hon. Stevens Hayward, 81 ; 1868, Jonathan B. Davis,
78; 1868, Luther Davis, 81 ; 1869, Dr. Peter Goodnow, died in Boston,
80 ; 1870, Cyrus Putnam, 72 ; 1870, Amos Handley, 70 ; 1872, Mehitable
Barker Piper, 101-2-1, March 25 ; 1872, Abel Jones, 88 ; 1872, Dea. Silas
Hosmer, 80 ; 1872, Jonathan Hosmer, 86 ; 1872, Simeon Knights ; 1873,
James Harris, 68 ; 1873, Abel Farrar, 76 ; 1873, Elnathan Jones, 78 ;
1863, William Reed, 69 ; 1874, Silas Taylor, 80; 1874, Nathaniel Hap-
good, 89; 1874, George Robbins, 90; 1874, Simon Hapgood, 86; 1875,
Alden Fuller. 77; 1875, Dr. Harris Cowdry, 72 ; 1876, Itbamar Parker
78 ; 187", Amos Cutter, 88 ; 1876, Oliver W. Drew, M.D., 78 ; 1876, Mrs.
Eliza, w ife of Elnathan Jones, 79; 1876, Samuel T. Adams, 79; 1876,
Mrs. Susan Abel Forbush, 76; 1877, Francis Tuttle, Esq., 86; 1877,
Rufns Tenney, 82; 1877, Dennis Putnam, 82 ; 1878, Mrs. Harriet Tuttle,
widow of Francis Tuttle, Esq., 82 ; 1878, Nathan Chaffin, 77 ; 1878,
Thomas Taylor, 72; 1878, Silas F. Bowker, 83; 1878, Miss Submit
Wheeler, 75; 1879, Daniel Jones, 66; 1879, Dea. John Fletcher, 89;
1879, Mrs. Sarah B. Stearns, 85 ; 1879, Jeremiah Hosmer, son of Amos
and Susan, 85; 1879, Mrs. Harriet Davis, 82; 1879, Levi Chamberlain,
72 ; 1879, Ruth Dole, 96; 1879, Mrs. Myra T. Miles, 74 ; 1880, Ebenezer
Wood, 87 ; 1880, Jonathan Wheeler, 89 ; 1880, Peter Tenney, 81 ; 1880,
Col. Winthrop E. Faulkner, 74 ; 1880, Mrs. Ruth Hager, 91 ; 1880,
Mrs. Lucy Noyes, 66; 1880, Mrs. Betsey Chaffin, 87; 1880, William
Davis, 89 ; 1881, Nathan Brooks, 81 ; 1881, Mrs. Ruth C, wife of Joseph
P. Reed, 73 ; 1881, Abel Forbush, 84 ; 1881, Mrs. Betsey H. Adams, 86 ;
1881, Aaron Fletcher, 80; 1881, Joseph P. Eeed, 73; 1881, Jonathan A.
Piper, 73; 1881, James W. Wheeler, 69 ; 1882, Joseph Wheeler, 85;
Jonas Blodgett, 71; 1883, Tilly Bobbins, 81; Daniel Wetherbee, 68 ;
1884, Simon Hosmer, 84 ; 1887, Robert Chaffin ; 1888, David M. Handley,
86; Cyrus Barker, 85.
We are fortunate in being able to secure
this memento of the past, in tbe portrait of
Mrs. Skinner's husband. It is an excellent
presentation of tbe man as he appeared in
early manhood. He was a genial, cultured
gentleman ; fond of reading, though not a
graduate of college ; moving in tbe choicest
circles of society; quiet in his style, but
buoyant and active.
He went to Brookfield, when a youth, to
act as clerk in a store. The storekeeper told
him never to find fault with the butter which
the customers brought for barter, but simply,
upon examining its quality, to tell them how
much he would give them.
His father, Dr. Abraham Skinner, died in
1810, when Henry was obliged to return to
Acton, and, in company with his brother,
Francis Skinner, for a while had charge of
the farm. The homestead and farm were
afterwards owned by Charles Tuttle.
Dr. Skinner built the house on this site in
1794, which, in its day, like that of Mrs.
Skinner, built about the same time, ranked
among the most elegant in town.
The wife of Dr. Abraham Skinner was a
Miss Coit, from Marlboro'. He had a large
medical practice for years. Dr. Skinner's
father was noted as a violinist. He could
play on the violin and jump through a win-
dow and not break the time or the tune.
Francis Skinner, the brother of Henry,
was a noted merchant in Boston, and became
quite wealthy in trade, and was generous in
his treatment of his brother's widow.
Mrs. Skinner tells this anecdote of her '
husband, after locating in business in An-
dover: "A friend of Mr. Skinner, Mr. Kid-
der, said to him, one day, ' Now, Skinner, you
ought to be married ; and I wish to make
you this proposition : If you will get married
within a year, you shall have my house, rent
free, for a year ; but if you don't get mar-
ried within a year, you shall give me one of
your best carpets for my new house.' Upon
tli is," Mrs. Skinner said, " he came right over to
Acton and got married. He could not afford
to lose the rent of that house a year, any
way," said Mrs. Skinner, smilingly.
Mr. Skinner was noted, while a trader in
Andover, for his earnest temperance princi-
ples. He was in full sympathy with Dr.
Edwards, of Andover, who was at that time,
stirring the whole community with his appeals
for a reform.
Among his papers is this quaint agreement,
signed by Mr. Skinner, showing his style of
work in this line : —
" This is to Certify, That Henry Skinner agrees to
give Rogers Blood cloth to make a good coat, provid-
ing he does not drink any rum. gin or brandy, wine or
any kind of intoxicating spirits, for twelve months
from this day (Andover, July 20, 1828), and Blood is
to forfeit ten dollars if he does not abide by this
agreement. Signed in presence of John Berby, who
promises to make the cloth into a coat for Mr.
Blood if he obtained it in the aforesaid way."
The autograph appended to the portrait
of Mr. Skinner, here presented, was cut from
Mr. Skinner dying before tbe fulfilment of
this obligation, there is this additional state-
ment : —
Andovek, April 10, 1830.
Received of Josiah H. Adams, administrator, six
dollars, in full the within obligation, by me.
Mr. Skinner was active in exertions to
repress the liquor traffic in Andover, urging
the rumseller to stop, and in some cases secur-
ing pledges to that effect. His early death
was a great public calamity as well as a pri-
He was the father of George, Alfred, Sarah,
and Benjamin. His fine engraving, presented
to the public in this history of Acton, is that
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
of a man who had some notable features of
character worthy of special remembrance.
He was an honest man. So all the records
prove ; so all the reminiscences of the man
reported by his most familiar contemporaries
affirm. He was honest in large trusts ; his
honesty went down also into the minutiae of
life equally sure. If he had made the mis-
take of a cent in trade with the storekeeper
anywhere in town, his first steps were directed
back to the man with whom the mistake had
been made, and his conscience was uneasy till
full satisfaction had been given. The wit-
nesses who rise up in judgment on the man
all agree. Says one : "If there ever was an
honest man in the town of Acton, Joseph
Brabrook was that man."
His integrity was impressed upon the memo-
ries of his fellow-townsmen as vividly as the
clear outlines of the beautiful eminence on
which has stood for nearly a century and half
the Brabrook homestead. Thanks to his son
George, we have a permanent reminder of all
the good qualities of his father and family
and ancestry associated with that structure in
the life-like engraving of the artist. It is a
fitting tribute of a loyal son to a worthy
father. The noble elm to the left in the
landscape is of the same age with Alfred,
another son. This cluster of elms around
the Brabrook house, like the other notable
elms in town, are typical illustrations of the
nobility of the men who planted them and
lived and died under their shade.
The house itself, though built in 1751, w as
put together from cellar to ridgepole with
Brabrook thoroughness, and it stands to-day
unlocked by the roughest winds that sweep
over the heights.
Mr. Brabrook was a cooper, and made bar-
rels in the winter, and the Brabrook stamp
was enough to carry them forthwith into and
out of the market. He raised hogs, and there
were no cleaner or better hogs in town. He
did not let them revel in their trough after
dinner, but invented an arrangement for lift-
ing it at once out of their reach till the next
meal was ready. He raised peaches, and they
were of the best quality, and had the real
Brabrook flavor. The canker worms at one
time made their raid upon his peach orchard.
He met them at their first outset, and said,
" Those worms are not to eat my peach
orchard," and off went the branches. A
new and better growth soon repaid for the
He was a man of moderate size ; not large,
nor tall, not demonstrative, not loud spoken
on the streets or elsewhere, but efficient in
bringing about sure results. He lost no time
at the loitering places of the village. If he
took his oxen to the blacksmith's to be shod,
and Blodgett said, " Please wait a few min-
utes, and I will attend to your case shortly,
Mr. Brabrook," he at once started them on
their homeward beat, saying, "I will come
again," and he would do it, a second and a
third time if necessary. He was a peaceable,
careful, reverent man. He kept up his habit
of asking 1 a blessing at the table in his latest
life, even when his voice could scarcely be
heard by him who sat nearest at the table.
Silas Conant, Sr., heard one of his last utter-
ances. It was this: " O God, we thank thee
for this food that is set before us ; we thank
thee kindly for Christ's sake."
He was devoted to his family. He had an
efficient, worthy companion in his wife, whose
energy and wisdom aided him essentially in
accomplishing the grand issue of his life-
His quiet, faithful ministries in her last
painful and prolonged sufferings are remem-
bered, and have endeared his name to a large
circle of appreciating neighbors. His chil-
dren rise up at the remembrance of his life
on the Hill, and call him blessed. He died
February 15, 1863, aged eighty-three years
and six months. His wife, Sally, died Decem-
ber 17, 1847, aged sixty-five years and six
Two Brabrook brothers were here as early
Thomas married Abigail Temple, daughter
of foichard Temple, in 1009, and died in
1092. Joseph, from whom those hearing the
name descended, married Sarah Graves, in
1672, and had one, Joseph, who married Sarah
Temple, and died in 1719. He was father to
Benjamin and grandfather to Deacon Joseph.
Second, John, who died a soldier at Lan-
caster, in 1705. Several daughters.
James, died at Fort Lawrence, in Nova
Scotia, in 1756.
Benjamin Brabrook, the father of Deacon
Joseph Brahrook, was second lieutenant of
Company 5, Third Regiment of Militia,
March 7, 1780. John Heald, first lieutenant :
Simon Hunt, captain. He died January 14,
1827, aged eighty-five.
Joseph Brahrook was chosen deacon Sep-
tember 29, 1775, and died April 28, 1812,
aged seventy-three, holding the office thirty-
seven years. Anna Brahrook, widow of
Deacon Joseph, died March 2, 1816, aged
Joseph Brahrook, the son of Benjamin and
Dorcas, was born March 24, 1738. Benjamin,
son of Benjamin, was horn Jnly 12, 1741.
Benjamin Brabrook, son of Benjamin, was
married June 6, 1773.
Joseph Adams Brabrook, son of Joseph,
Jr., and Sally, was born Novemher 18, 1806.
Benjamin F. Brahrook, son of Joseph, Jr.,
and Sally, was born September 15, 1809.
Sarah Appleton Brabrook, daughter of Joseph
and Sally, born Novemher 29, 1826. George,
son of Joseph and Sally, born November 9,
Benjamin was a Baptist minister, and
preached with efficiency, but died young.
He was born Sept. 4, 1801, in Chesterfield,
N. H. His father's name was Joel, and his
grandfather's Peter. He came to West
Acton when a young man, and established
himself as a blacksmith, and soon exhibited
an originality and versatility of talent which
inspired great hopes of his future success.
Sept, 29, 1828, he married Clarissa Hos-
mer, daughter of Nathan and sister of Mrs.
John Hapgood, recently deceased. She was
born March 11, 1804. She has been a bold,
patient, cheerful helper and companion all
his days. She lived with him uncomplain-
ingly in the little schoolhouse at the cross-
roads till he built the brick house on the
corner, where they lived ten years. She was
efficient in housekeeping, cooking at one time
for thirty men when the railroad was in
process of construction. She looked after
the sick of the village during the long period
of its growth, still caring for the same after
her strength failed.
They have journeyed happily together for
more than sixty years, and are now stepping
down the declivities with sprightliness, hand
in hand, ready for the Master's call. They
must be the oldest couple in town, the hus-
band in the eighty-ninth and the wife in the
The names of their children are here
given : George Henry, born in Concord, June
1, 1829, died June 24, 1856 ; Mary Ann H.,
born in Acton, May 2, 1831; Edwin, born
Dec. 31, 1834, died April 27, 1886; Nathan
Hosmer, born Oct, 4, 1838, died March 1,
1874; Clara E. Stone, born Aug. 27, 1842;
Charles Bradley Stone, born July 17, 1848.
From the very construction of his mind he
has been an enthusiast in every line of work
or improvement which he has undertaken.
He has watched with zest signs of progress
in the village of his adoption. He built the
first store, and when the merchandise came
too tardily from the metropolis, he projected
the Fitchburg Railroad. His genius and
pluck, combined in sharp rivalship with that
of Colonel Faulkner at the South, insured the
success of the enterprise.
His first thought was a new route and
road-bed to the city, but this finally yielded
to a railroad charter from the Legislature,
which was carried by the combined forces of
the projectors. Then the question was —
which village shall have the depot? This
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
was at first decided in favor of the South,
then the decision reversed in favor of the
West, then the compromise by which both
secured the advantage. The West was, how-
ever, for quite a period, the distributing cen-
tre for the country beyond in all directions,
far and near.
The fire still kindles with its old lustre in
the eye of Mr. Stone as he tells the story of
this railroad contest, in which he was so con-
spicuous a figure.
He has been, from the beginning, a warm
advocate of the temperance cause, of the
schools, and of the government. His first
vote, Democratic, was cast for General Jack-
son as President, but during the Fugitive
Slave Bill excitement he became a Republi-
can, on which side he has voted most of his
public life. He watches with an old man's
eagerness the recent developments of growth
in his vicinity, and is sure of a future
for the village and the town as a whole Which
will rival all the past.
GEORGE CLEAVELAND WRIGHT.
He was born Jan. 7, 1823, in Bedford,
Mass. His father, Joel Wright, lived in Box-
boro'. His mother, Dolly H. Reed, was born
in Littleton, Mass., and afterwards taught
school in Boxboro'. George lived in Box-
boro' from the age of fifteen to nineteen years,
when he learned the shoemaker's trade, at
which he worked for nine years, the first two
years in employ of Deacon John Fletcher, of
Acton, and the rest of the time in business
for himself at West Acton.
December 31, 1846, he married Susan H.
Davis, daughter of Jonathan B. Davis, grand-
daughter of Simon Hosmer and grandniece
of Captain Isaac Davis, who was killed at
Four of their children lived to grow up.
born as follows : Estella M. Wright, Decem-
ber 20, 1849; George S. Wright, July 13,
1857; Fine R. Wright, June 13, I860; T.
Bertha Wright, June 5, 1866.
At the age of thirty-one, after being in the
milk business in Charlestown and Boston two
years, he engaged in the coffee and spice
business as a member of the firm of Hay-
ward & Co., which, after twenty-five years of
successful business, united with Dwinell &
Co., and soon afterwards with Mason & Co.,
making the firm of Dwinell. Hayward & Co.,
the largest coffee and spice house in New
England. Though always an equal partner
in every respect, he has never asked to have
his name attached to the firm-name.
For the past thirty years he has been the
coffee buyer of the firm, and his frequent
trips to the New York markets have made
him personally known to most of the promi-
nent coffee men of this country.
As a coffee buyer he has few equals and
no superiors. With the courage of his con-
victions, hacked by a most thorough knowl-
edge of the statistical position of the article
in question, he has shown his right to the
foremost position in his department of the
business; notably so in the rise of 1886-87,
when the Brazilian coffees advanced in one
year more than 250 per cent, in value.
From small beginnings the firm of Dwinell,
Hayward & Co. has seen a healthy and legiti-
mate growth, and to-day distributes the prod-
ucts of its extensive factory, located at the
corner of Batterymarch and Hamilton Streets,
Boston, in almost every State and Territory
this side the Rocky Mountains.
Mr. Wright is strictly a self-made man.
Without rich or influential friends to help, he
has won for himself a position in the business
world that any man might envy and few
attain, and he bids fair, at the age of sixty-
seven, to enjoy for many years the compe-
tency that he so well deserves.
Early in his successful career, 1861, he
secured for himself a worthy home on the
brow of the hill overlooking the village of
West Acton, and which commands a glorious
view of the surrounding country. Here his
children grew up, and here he still resides.
He has been prominently identified with
the Universal ist Parish in West Acton, and
was one of three to contribute a large sum
toward the erection of its present meeting-
In all the village and town improvements,
Mr. Wright has always shown a lively inter-
est and a generous help.
Lyceum and temperance, school and library,
have found in him a firm friend and a most
In the Legislature of 1874, he represented
the towns of Acton, Way land, and Sudbury
as a Republican, with credit to himself and
with satisfaction to his constituents.
Though a Republican in politics, Mr.
Wright has never hesitated to work and vote
for principles, not party — for men, not ma-
He was born in Acton, April 16, 1822.
He was the son of Silas Taylor and Sophia
Hapgood, who were married April 11, 1820.
She was the daughter of Ephraim and Molly
Hapgood, and was born February 13, 1792,
and died March 10, 1869. Silas Taylor came
from Boxboro' to Acton, and bought of Moses
Richardson the estate situated where Moses
Taylor now lives. The house then standing
was unpainted, with a roof running down in
the rear. There was a well-sweep and an
oaken bucket in front. The chimney was
made of flat stone, laid in clay and twelve
feet square. It stood on that site for over a
hundred years. The new house was built by
Mr. Silas Taylor. The old site was known
as the Barker place, Joseph Barker (2),
Mr. Silas Taylor, the father of Moses, was
a man of rare sense and wit, of great physi-
cal power and endurance, a laborious and
saving man, and accumulated for those times
great possessions. He was a soldier of the
war of 1812, and served at Sackett's Harbor
on Lake Erie, receiving a pension for the
same in his later life. He was kind to the
poor, and in his quiei way befriended many
in embarrassed circumstances. He was
favored in the Companionship for forty-nine
years of a woman of rare modesty, judgment,
The grandfather of Moses Taylor was
Silas Taylor, a resident of Stow, formerly of
Watertown. He commanded a company from
Stow in the battle of Bennington, Vermont,
August 16, 1777, and was present at the
capture of Burgoyne. He was for many
years a justice of the peace in Stow, and
town clerk, and did most of the marrying
and other town business.
The sword which he carried at Benning-
ton, as also the sword carried to South Boston,
by Captain Silas Jones in 1812 war, have
recently been presented to the Memorial
Library of Acton, by Moses Taylor.
He was educated in the common schools
of Acton, and in addition attended the
Academ} r at Ashby two terms. He had the
offer of a liberal education by his father, but
chose rather the homestead farm, whose acres
he still cultivates to the full measure of his
strength and beyond measure.
June 18, 1846, he Avas married, by Rev.
James T. Woodbury, to Mary Elizabeth
Stearns, daughter of Nathaniel Stearns, of
Acton, formerly of Waltham. She was born
in Littleton, November 5, 1825. Her mother
was Sophia Hammond, the daughter of Mary
Bigelow, of Weston — of the old Bigelow
Mr. Taylor, though a busy, hard-working
man upon the farm, has ever taken a deep
personal interest in public affairs, having
earnest convictions upon all subjects Avhich
engaged his attention. In politics he has
been a Whig and Republican. In 1882 he
was elected by his district of towns, including
Acton, Concord, Littleton, Stow and Box-
boro', as a Republican, to the Legislature. He
has been justice of peace thirty years in suc-
cession, beginning in 1840.
He has been an ardent friend of the mili-
tary, having held commission in the Davis
HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS.
Guards as fourth, third, second, first lieuten-
ant and captain, which he resigned 1857.
Otherwise he would have been in position to
command at the outbreak of the Rebellion.
He was deputy marshal to enroll soldiers
during the Rebellion. He took tbe United
States census of Littleton, Stow, Boxboro',
and Acton in 1870.
He built or remodeled the following houses
at the Centre. Dr. Sanders', the parsonage,
Mrs. Rouillard's, Reuben Reed, Lyman Tay-
lor's, the two new structures at the east of
the Common, formerly the Fletcher home-
stead, where the library now stands.
When the project of building the library
was pending in the mind of Mr. Wilde, rather
than have the project fail, Mr. Taylor came
forward w ith his thousand dollars and cleared
tbe grounds for the structure. He has been
parish collector at times, and on the Parish
Committee for over forty years, and a mem-
- her of the choir, with his wife and children,
most of the time. He is the oldest member
of the Board of Trustees of the Memorial
Library, having been selected by Mr. Wilde
as a member for life in the charter of incor-
Mr. Silas Taylor, the father of Moses, died
January 28, 1874, aged eighty years and
seven months. Sophia Taylor, sister of
Moses, born March 8, 1821; died August 5,
1839, aged eighteen years, four months and
twenty-seven days. Martha Taylor, sister of
Moses and wife of Hon. John Fletcher, born
March 8, 1829, and died August 14, 1882,
aged fifty-three years and live months. Silas
Taylor, .Jr.. brother of Moses, born April 2,
1825, and died March 18, 1844, aged eigh-
teen years and sixteen days.
Children of Moses and Elizabeth: Silas
Hammond Taylor, born March 25, 1847, mar-
ried Mary Thompson, of Oxford, Nova Scotia.
Children of Hammond and Mary: Mary
Elizabeth Taylor, Moses Taylor, Martha Tay-
lor, Marion Celeste.
Moses Emery Taylor married Clara Tuttle,
daughter of Edward Tuttle. Children of
Emery and Clara : Carrie Elizabeth, Wilmot
Emery, Simon Davis.
Lyman Cutler Taylor married Addie Tut-
tle, daughter of Capt. Daniel Tuttle. Chil-
dren of Lyman and Addie : Grace EveLyn,
Lizzie Sophia Taylor married Charles B.
Sanders, M. D. Children of Lizzie and
Dr. Sanders : Ralph Barton, Richard Stearns,
Mary Etta Taylor married Charles Pickens.
Children of Mary Etta and Charles Pickens ;
Carl Pickens, Effie Eloise Pickens. Mrs.
Pickens married, after tbe decease of Mr.
Pickens, Edward Wetherbee Conant, son of
Winthrop F. Conant.
Simon Davis Taylor, son of Moses and
Mary Elizabeth, born November 2, 1855 ;
died. Arthur William Taylor, born Novem-
ber 13, 1863. Charles Carlton, son of Moses
and Mary Elizabeth, born October 4, 1868.
SIMON BLANC HARD.
He was born in Boxboro', January 29,
1808. He was the son of Simon, who was
the son of Calvin, who was the son of Simon.
He married, April 23, 1849, Elizabeth Dix
Fletcher, daughter of Jonathan Fletcher.
She died July 28, 1874. The children by
this marriage are here given : William, born
April 3, 1850, died February 15, 1877 ; Ellen
Ann, born September 13, 1851, married Janu-
ary 1, 1873, Calvin M. Holbrook ; Elizabeth
Fletcher, born October 31, 1856, married
Amasa Knowlton; Mr. Blanchard, April 15,
1877, married his second wife, Susan Wheeler,
daughter of Abner Wheeler.
Mr. Blanchard lives on one of the choicest
landscapes of the northwest corner of the
town, towards Littleton, in a comfortable two-
story farmhouse. It is in a neighborhood
of well-cultured farms and orchards. He
has occupied the same site for fifty-one years.
His steady, industrious habits have made
their impress upon the homestead and all the
surroundings. If lie has not held com-
Luther Conant who died on January 11 at the age of 98
at his home in Norwalk, Conn., was at the time of his death
the oldest alumnus of MIT having been graduated from that
institution in 1895. Rev. James Maclntyre conducted the
funeral service for Mr. Conant in our church on Sunday after-
noon, January 17.
Luther Conant was born in the Conant farmhouse just
north of; Acton Center and was the 7th generation of his
family to live in that house. His father was the town
moderator for 40 years. The Conants were all active in
our church and one of our stained glass windows was donated
by Luther Conant' s grandparents,
Following a newspaper career with the Journal of Com-
rcerce and The Wall Street Journal, Luther Conant became
■ i ' '
Deputy Commissioner of Corporations in Washington, D. C,
and in 1912 was appointed Commissioner by President Taft.
,Ke served for many years with the National Industrial Con-
ference Board and was the author of "A Critical Analysis
of Industrial Pension Systems." Even in his late years he
kept up £ regular correspondence with many members of the
He J.s survived by a son, Luther Conant, Jr., in West-
port, Connecticut and by two grandchildren. We remember with
gratitude all that he and his family contributed to the life
of our church and to our community.
Acton' 8 First Ecumenical Communion
As a part of the celebration of the week of Christian
Unity, the Acton Clergy Association is sponsoring an
ecumenical communion service this Sunday evening, Janu-
ary 31, at the Church of the Good Shepherd at 7:00 PM.
The church is on the corner of Newtown Road and Arling-
ton Street. The Rev. Arthur Walrasley, executive secre-
tary of the Mass. Council of Churches, will deliver the
sermon. The service of communion will be conducted by
the clergy of the community and they will use the
liturgy designed by the Committee on Church Unity (COCU)
which is proposing a church union for nine of our Ameri-
can denominations. The proposal is still in the study
stage. The Sunday night service will give us all a
good opportunity to worship using the "new order".
Our lay representatives in the service are Marion
Armstrong, Carol Lake, Charles Rogers and Larry Faulkner.
Our ministers will also participate.
Deacons Organize for 1971
All nine deacons were present along with the two
ministers on Monday, January 25, when they held their
first meeting of the new year at th«a parsonage. They
spentsome time getting acquainted and the new deacons
each gave a short presentation at the minister's request.
Marion Armstrong, who has been a member of the church
longer than any other deacon, told of some of the events
in the past. Larry Faulkner, the youngest deaccn
missions and moved in circles of public
notoriety and struck the pavements with his
dashing steeds, he lias maintained his integrity,
deserved titles which he might ha ve had for
the asking, and reached a venerable age, receiv-
ing the confidence and regard of the com-
munity, among whom he has lived in peace
these many years.
Mr. Blanchard has been a Whig and Re-
publican in politics, a Baptist in his religious
faith, and a man of order, sobriety, and good
sense in all his public and private relations.
His countenance beams with intelligence and
good fellowship, and is itself a benediction
which we are happy to have where it can be
of service to the public.